Friday, September 9, 2011

A bug's life

In the blog post, Pest Control, I shared with you that I purchased Praying Mantis egg cases in the hope that the little insect cannibals would help to reduce the amount of plant eating insects in the garden.

I've purchased the egg cases for several years now, but this is the first year that I've photographed them at the many different stages of their growth.

So, I'm going to share with you!

I realize that not everyone finds these creatures to be as fascinating as I do. Therefore, I will not be offended if anyone wishes to skip reading today's post. However, if you leave, I really do think you'll be missing out! They really are cool! But I won't be offended!


Mantises start out very tiny.

Hundreds of them emerge from that little brown case. Hundreds! And they are so little!

The first few weeks after they hatch, I could easily find dozens of them in the gardens where I released them.

Still so little! But their movement, and the sheer numbers of them made them easy to spot.

As the mantises got a little bigger, they became a bit more difficult to locate because they began to spread out into the yard or garden. They do not like to be close to each other. It may have something to do with not being very comfortable with having a neighbor who is a cannibal.

I'm pretty sure he was smiling for this photo!
A few more weeks and the mantises turn green. They do not move around so much anymore. They wait very still and very patiently for dinner to come to them!

The Family had been so excited that the mantises were living where we could watch them everyday! 

And then nothing! We couldn't find a mantis anywhere! We were so disappointed!

We think they may have become frog food. Very sad!

After several weeks of lamenting the loss of our mantises, we found this guy.

YAY! And wow was he big!

It's incredible how much they grow. It fills me with delight to think about how many bugs he must have eaten to grow that much! YAY again!

Another fascinating thing about mantises...please don't be freaked out! They shed their skin!

That's right, when they grow, they peel off their old skin!

Next thing you know, that mantis is nearly as long as your hand.

Now when I go looking for the mantis in the garden, I don't have to search very much, I just listen for the crunching, and yep, there he'll be, eating his lunch! Yes, you really can hear the crunching!

That bit of brown next to his arm, yeah, that's lunch!
Very cool bug!


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