Many of times have I had people come into my shop bringing in what they were sure to be a pesky bug about to emerge from their egg and create havoc on their gardens. When I tell them how lucky they are to have such a wonderful insect egg of the Praying Mantis, their mouths drop and let me know they have been trying to eliminate them. Well, that brings me to this blog! The Good Bug, Praying Mantis. I have kept a twig on the counter with the egg of a praying mantis just to let people know these are the ‘Good’ guys. When I trim my fruit trees and see the mantis eggs on the twigs I have just cut I make sure to weave the twig with the egg into the nearby fence so these little guys can hatch and become my little workhorses in the garden during the summer months.
The life of the Praying Mantis starts in an ootheca egg mass. Taking place usually in the fall on a small branch or twig, the egg mass then hatches in the spring or sometimes early summer as the temperature rises and helps facilitate the time for the hatching of the numerous eggs. Some eggs look like a carmel colored packing peanut while others have a harder type egg that are typically smaller like the picture below.
Praying Mantis feed on grasshoppers , ants, moths, crickets, spiders, dragonflies, butterflies (yes, they eat beneficial as well), gnats, worms, meal-worms, grubs, termites, maggots, katydids, aphids, most flies, and some types of water bugs. They are great for eating pests in gardens and yards.
Nurseries carry the egg cases during the spring time and they are great to get as long as you don’t spray chemical pesticides that will harm these beneficial beauties. Just set them out in a protected area and wait and watch for the very tiny babies to emerge and begin feasting on pesky bugs. So the next time you see these odd-looking egg casings, know that you have help on its way with bug patrol this spring and summer!