Posts Tagged: praying mantis
An egg case (here's one at right) hatched on Emily Bzdyk's desk this week.
"I came to work and there were about 200 of them on my desk," said Bzdyk, a first-year graduate student in entomology who studies with Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor and vice chair of the Department of Entomology.
Bzdyk found a home for some of them, and others will be exhibited at Picnic Day. The museum houses not only seven million insect specimens, but live ones as well (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Vietnamese walking sticks, spiders, tarantulas and the like).
Mantids, from the order Mantodea, are carnivorous. No vegetarian diet for them. They hide in the vegetation and snare insects such as flies, mosquitoes, butterflies, grasshoppers, blow flies, wasps, houseflies, moths, cockroaches and spiders.
When 200 or so emerge from an egg case at the same time and there's no food to eat, they eat one another.
Goodbye, brother. Goodbye, sister.
As adults, even the mating game can turn deadly. After they mate, the female sees her lover as protein--protein to develop her eggs.
"Praying mantises lurk among vegetation, where they are well camouflaged, and seize insects when they come near," say Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney in their newly published book, "Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species" (Stackpole Books).
"When they catch a butterfly or grasshopper they consume everything except the wings," they write.
The mantids "sometimes prey on small frogs and lizards, and one was observed clutching a short-tail shrew."
If you look on You Tube, you'll see them attacking even larger prey, such hummingbirds.
And eating them.
Tiny Praying Mantis
Let Us Prey
Off with the Head
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.")