"Don't you stay at home of evenings? Don't you love a cushioned seat in a corner, by the fireside, with your slippers on your feet?"
-Oliver Wendall Holmes Sr.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Praying Mantis Farmers

There's the egg case. Like a small, brown chunk of Styrofoam glued to the hedge. 
Praying Mantids have designated our yard a top destination.Lucky us! (the miniature scientists [and the big scientist] in residence, rejoice!)

 I think there's something really tangible and wonder cultivating about watching wild things up close and sometimes even having a part in caring for them. We found a couple of egg cases in our hedge and we brought one indoors and installed it on the kitchen counter in a mason jar. (Next to the mason jar containing a newt, and the one with a caterpillar in it and the one containing two worms that Nib insists are "best friends.") We waited and waited and we kept checking on it but nothing. I told the boys excitedly what it was at first and we faithfully inspected it but eventually I got nervous and started telling them that maybe it wouldn't hatch and there were no guarentees about these things, maybe it was an old one, maybe something was wrong...who knew, really. Amazing how doubt creeps in when much patience in required.

But then one morning returning from errands, Nib made it inside first and boomeranged right  back out yelling "Our ants are out! Our ants are out!" So exciting to go in and see the tiny, almost transparent mantids all over the inside of the jar, and the spiral of egg case sawdust hanging delicately down where they drilled their way out.

We took the jar outside and talked together about garden pest insects and how mantids can be like garden watchdogs, eating the voracious vegetable enemies. We talked to the babies and asked them if a good bunch of them would stay in our yard and keep up the tradition of keeping it a top eating and egg laying location. The boys watched the babies climbing the glass walls of the jar and skittering off down the rail of the stoop towards the flower garden. Such fun to raise, observe and appreciate in person these strange, impressive creatures. The boys thought it was wicked cool to find out that they have five eyes but only one ear and hear that they can turn their heads 180 degrees around. The world is an astounding place.

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1 comment:

  1. How exciting! We've had a few over the years, but never found eggs or were able to watch them hatch out! I love them, though! Glad your yard is a haven.

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