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Garden Hero: The Predacious Praying Mantis

July 21st, 2010

 

As far as humans go, this alien, leaf looking insect appears more menacing than it truly is. However, for villainous garden bugs, the praying mantis is all about pest control. This lean, green eating machine takes no prisoners, because it would rather consume them! Aphids, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, moths, and more, there a few garden pests that can escape the hungry appetite of the praying mantis.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the praying mantis is short and consists of three phases: egg, nymph and adult. Praying mantises mate in late summer then females lay their eggs in the fall before dying. Generally, a praying mantis will lay eggs on branches, flower stalks and walls. The eggs are covered with ootheca—a liquid which hardens into an egg case. This Latinized word makes perfect sense: oo-, meaning ‘egg’ from the Greek word ōon, and theca, which means ‘container’ or ‘cover,’ from the Greek theke. Praying mantis egg cases are very hardy, so there is no need to worry about subzero temperatures. There is no larval phase for the praying mantis. Come spring, wingless praying mantis nymphs push their way out of narrow slits in the egg case then immediately begin their predatory life. The praying mantis molts five times, and in approximately six months the praying mantis is an adult.

If you are interested in purchasing praying mantises for your garden, you can buy praying mantis egg cases. Each egg case hatches 50-200 young praying mantis nymphs, and three egg cases will cover approximately 5,000 sq. ft. Placed strategically in your garden, shrubs or branch nooks, once hatched, your praying mantis nymphs will voraciously begin their heroic garden patrolling, keeping villains at bay and your plants healthy.

Note: If you decide to purchase praying mantises for your garden, be aware that this insect also delights in eating other heroic bugs, such as hover flies and lacewigs.

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