Monday, April 23, 2012

Organic Gardening with Praying Mantises

While walking around the farm Saturday, I came across a most unusual egg case. I have seen them before and knew instantly what it was but I do realize that most people may not be familiar with it. It is of course the egg case of a praying mantis. After taking a picture, I went inside to do a little research on praying mantises in general. I discovered that each fall, female praying mantises deposit eggs in frothy brown cases that they then attach to twigs. The cases harden, protecting the eggs from birds and bad weather. Each egg case may contain anywhere from 50 to 200 baby mantis. The babies typically hatch out of the nest sometime between May to July.

But, why on earth would anyone want such an unusual creature in their garden?
Although mantises are not pets, they are also NOT pests. They are instead beneficial insects that have a ravenous appetite. They are programmed to eat all the time so, a mantis will hunt for food both day and night.  A single praying mantis can eat as many as 800-1000 bugs in a lifetime, and they live about 8-9 months. What a WONDERFULLY organic way to control pests in your own garden!

So, if you haven't found any egg cases in your own garden, try looking other places such as a park or neighbors yard (with permission of course). If you do find an egg case somewhere off  your property, you can easily remove it and place into your own garden. Or you can actually buy egg cases from beneficial-insect suppliers.  

(Information and mantis picture courtesy of

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