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Baby praying mantis invasion!

by Cristina on May 24, 2013

One of the truths of gardening is that you never know when your garden will share something brand new with you. It’s almost always a surprise. Hopefully a delightful surprise.

Like this:

baby praying mantis

Every winter, I collect praying mantis egg cases from my folks’ property and scatter them around my garden. Then, every spring, I celebrate each time I discover a baby mantis amongst the vegetables and flowers. But, for all these years of fostering praying mantises, I’ve never once witnessed the hatching of an egg case. That changed yesterday.

praying mantids hatching in the garden

praying mantises hatching in the garden

baby mantis

It’s a bit like watching an alien hatch. In fact, it’s a lot like that. Don’t believe me? Check out this video:

A little bit creepy, right? But, also, very very cool.

If you’re unfamiliar with praying mantises, you should know that they are wonderful bugs to have around in the garden. The little ones will gorge themselves on aphids, flea beetles and other tiny pests, while larger mantises eat cabbage moths, beetles and, sometimes, one another. Hungry praying mantises don’t discriminate. They eat garden pests and beneficial bugs with equal abandon. So, yes, you are making things a bit more challenging for your lady bugs. But you’re also introducing another predator, which is generally a good thing. And, of course, your resident bug-eating birds will thank you for welcoming more big, tasty insects.

You know what they say: If you want to grow an ecosystem, you have to sacrifice a few bugs.

How do you encourage praying mantises and other hungry, pest-eating predators in your garden? Click here to share your tips in the comments section.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Hedgerow Rose May 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm

This is amazing! I always add Praying Mantis egg cases to our garden, too, but have never once seen them actually hatch–in fact I only ever see an adult later in the summer if I’m lucky. Thank you for sharing this!

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Alice Warren May 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Cristina, do you know if the “Praying Mantis” is the same bug or insect as the “Spit Devil?” We have a few of those show up every spring, and I always try to get rid of them every time I see one because of the ‘old saying’, “If they spit in your eyes it will blind you”. Is probably just a fable but I take no chances on it. Thanks for sharing the photos.

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Cristina May 25, 2013 at 8:50 am

Alice – I had to google ‘spit devil,’ because I’d never heard of it before. Turns out it’s a large walking stick that just doesn’t live this far north. It does spit, and its spit does hurt. But, it doesn’t cause blindness. Just discomfort.

Praying mantises, on the other hand, don’t spit at all. :)

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Carole Milligan May 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Thanks for sharing this video, I found it amazing to watch. We’re always happy when praying mantises show up here.

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Edna May 25, 2013 at 9:35 am

That video was awsome!. I live in the north east where can I find pods?.
I love nature and gardening. Still learning every day.

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kathyb May 27, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I live in the northeast too. I found about 6 cocoons along a chain link fence in an area where full-grown adult mantises were in the area during the late summer. they were pretty low to the ground (maybe a few inches above ground and no higher than 12 inches) and built around sturdy plant stems & even the chain link had one. check around in autumn. I left them outside under a wood porch, stuck the stalks they were on into dirt in a pot that had tall winter grass surrounding the sticks with cocoons, just protection from wind & sogginess from wet dirt. hope this helps!

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Cristina May 31, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Two ways to find praying mantis egg cases, Edna. The first is just to look around your yard and other planted areas. The egg cases blend in well; I have the best luck finding them on grass stalks and old raspberry and blackberry canes. Best time to look for them is the winter, when there are no leaves to hide them.

An alternative would be to buy egg cases. Many garden supply companies sell them. It may be too late for this year, but it’s always an option next year.

I don’t think we ever stop learning about nature or gardening. One of the reasons why I’m so crazy about both! :)

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Libby May 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

Thanks for this fantastic video and the photos and story. My goodness, you had foresight!

I used to see the praying mantises in my garden in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico where the climate is sub tropical. Now that I’m living in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, MX where the climate is high desert I have not seen any. But my garden is only 1 year old.

I enjoy your blog!

Libby

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Glenda May 25, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Wow!!! Thank you so much.. loved your movie. and I love getting your emails about the Garden.. good for you ( I never like the HOA’s) always telling you what you can and can’t do.. that is when I got my next house … that was one of things I made sure that I didn’t have…
Thanks for sharing.
Glenda

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Casa Mariposa May 26, 2013 at 12:18 am

I once hatched mantids in my classroom and we watched them come out of the egg case. I was worried that if we didn’t get them out of the jar soon enough, they’d eat each other in front of the kids. I always love seeing them in my garden. Very cool bugs! :)

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Kathy May 27, 2013 at 10:36 pm

What time of year , and where can you find the eggs? I have mantis around our yard but have never seen eggs.

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Cristina May 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm

The egg cases are easiest to find in the winter, when plants have lost their leaves. But, even then, it’s a challenge to find them. They’re the color of dead grass, and blend in remarkably well. I’ve found the easiest places to find them are on dead stalks of tall grasses, raspberries, black berries or other thin-stemmed plant stalks.

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Angie May 31, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I found 4 of these fantastic egg cases in my lilac bushes this spring. Not knowing what they were, I asked my eleven year old son his opinion (he’s an avid animal lover), and he thought they were most likely praying mantis egg cases. After some research on the internet, I came to the conclusion that they are praying mantis egg cases. I have been checking them daily, but have seen nothing come out of any of them. I am so excited to hopefully see them hatch! I am in zone 5, not sure what zone you are in, but I’m thinking it might be a tad too early here for them to hatch.

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Cristina May 31, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Hi Angie – I’m in Zone 7a, which means you probably have a little bit to wait before those egg cases hatch. Another week or two, maybe? You’ll know they’ve hatched if you see a bit of web-like stuff hanging off them. I hope you get to watch them hatch; it’s really very neat to see!

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Nick September 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Lovely site!! Great photos and video!!
I live in N.E.Spain, and we often have manti appearing in the garden, but today, I saw one on our windowsill which didn’t look like all the others! It was about 1.5 inches long, and carried its tail like a scorpion. Never seen young like this before..have you?

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Cristina September 7, 2014 at 9:32 am

That’s a new one for me, too, Nick. Definitely looks like a mantis of some sort, but not like any species I’ve seen before. Beautiful creature. Thanks for sharing your photo!

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