Posts Tagged: praying mantis
Everything's coming up roses at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus.
Make that rose-haired tarantulas.
See, the Bohart not only houses some seven million insect specimens in its quarters in 1124 Academic Surge, but they have a few live ones, too.
Such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, praying mantids and rose-haired tarantulas.
The Bohart, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology is one of our favorite places. You never know what you'll find.
We stopped by the museum last week and one of the Bohart student employees, Nanase Nakanishi, a UC Davis senior majoring in animal science, was caring for the occupants.
She and her colleagues were feeding the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, aka "hissers." While they were eating, Nanase picked up the rose hair, a favorite among budding entomologists and pet enthusiasts. On her red blouse, it looked like very much like a beautiful brooch. It's a soft, docile, gentle critter.
Nanase, who has worked at the Bohart for three years, feels very much at home there.
And, no wonder. Following graduation, she wants to study veterinary medicine and become a veterinarian.
Here's a "cold case" to investigate.
Check your backyard or neighborhood park and see if a praying mantis has deposited an egg case on a tree limb, plant or fence.
Case in point: Over at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the UC Davis campus, a frequently watered potted plant attracts scores of honey bees seeking water to deliver to their hives.
It also has attracted a cunning praying mantis.
She just deposited an egg case on one of the stems, knowing that when her offspring emerge next spring there will be plenty of food for them.Praying mantises (Tenodera sinensis) are fierce-looking, combative insects with voracious appetites. They'll eat any insect they can catch and overcome. And not just insects: they've been known to attack and kill everything from hummingbirds to mice.
Call it a banty-rooster complex; nothing seems to frighten the pugnacious praying mantis.
About this time of year, the praying mantis deposits her eggs on a twig or stem or fence. The frothy secretion hardens into a shell to protect it from the elements and from predators.
Fast-forward to spring or nearly spring. When the weather warms, so will the cold case, and about 100 to 200 tiny mantises will emerge.
They'll be so hungry they'll even eat one another.
Can't find an egg case? Not to worry. Early next year, your local hardware store or nursery will probably have them--in the refrigerated section.
The praying mantis glared at me.
It was not afraid of me, my camera, or my jockeying around to get a better position.
When I captured the image (below) last fall in a neighbor's garden, I decided that in 2009, I would get my very own praying mantis.
Or maybe dozens of them.
Praying mantises, you see, help control aphids, thrips, flies, whiteflies, mosquitoes, and grubs. They also make great portraits.
So, how do you get your very own praying mantis? You can order egg cases online (just Google "praying mantis egg cases") or buy them at a local nursery. Also, you can usually find them in the gardening section of your favorite hardware store.
You'll get a finely meshed net bag. You hang it in a tree or bush by threading a small branch through the mesh or by nailing the bag to the branch. The eggs will hatch three weeks after temperatures reach 70 degrees. The tiny mantises will exit through the holes and scatter into the nearby foliage.
We purchased our bag (well, two bags) today in the gardening section of Home Depot. The egg cases are refrigerated to avoid unwanted hatching in the store. Each bag contains one egg case, and each egg case will yield about 200 mantises, the instruction indicate. The insects will mature in 4 to 6 months. The female will deposit from one to 5 egg cases before winter. With the first freeze, the adults die. The egg cases hatch in the spring.
Then the cycle begins again.
Now, we wait. Soon, with any luck, we'll have scores of praying mantises.
Life is good!
It's in the Bag
For my New Year's resolution, I resolve to turn over a new leaf.
Oh, sure, most folks resolve to eat less, exercise more, drink less, read more, stress less, save more, gripe less, and volunteer more.
I'm turning over a new leaf.
You never know what kind of insect you'll find there or what kind of insect will "pose" for you.
Happy New Year! (And may one of your resolutions involve "turning over a new leaf.")
The praying mantis isn't at all concerned about culinary choices.
It doesn't worry about who's coming to dinner, only that dinner will come.
This aggressive, predatory insect will eat just about anything it can get its claws on, entomologists agree. That includes bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, crickets, moths and flies. It's even been known to catch and feast on small frogs, birds, lizards, mice and snakes--not to mention its own species. During or after mating, the female often bites off her lover's head and eats him. Sexual cannabalism!
The praying mantis (insect order Mantodea) is difficult to spot. It's camouflaged brown, green or yellow to match its surroundings. You may see it on tree bark, foliage, fallen leaves, sticks 'n stones, blades of grass and flowers. A master of ambush, it perches stealthily, its front legs in a "praying position," as it patiently awaits the first course. Then whoosh! It lashes out and grasps its victim with its spiked forelegs. The ending is not pleasant.
Just be glad that the praying mantis is not human-sized.
Waiting for dinner