Mommy, Where do baby Praying Mantis come from?


Chinese praying mantis (or Tenodera aridifolia sinensis) are commonly seen by many people in their gardens from time to time, but perhaps not so common of a sighting is that of the actual birth place of baby praying mantises.

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Well, my darlings – this is where baby praying mantids come from.

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It is called an ootheca – or you can just call it the egg case, or birthing place of tiny baby mantis.

This one was spotted this winter on a fullmoon Japanese maple tree in my backyard.  You can see it looks papery and is attached to a twig, where it becomes dry and tough to survive winter.

After the mommy mantis lays her eggs in her styrofoam looking egg case (the ootheca), which is secreted from her unmentionables, she unfortunately dies.  Her army of tiny babies will have to enter the world on their own in the spring.

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But the good news is her little baby eggs remain protected until they are ready to make their first appearance.
(If only I knew exactly when, I’d love to capture photos of the baby praying mantises coming out of the ootheca!)

However, there are some photos available via VIRALNOVA.COM of baby mantids emerging.  Just click the link below to see the little babies  — they are so tiny and cute.

Aren’t they just adorable?  Apparently, all the eggs (some say as many as 200) will hatch at the same time.  These little newborns enter the big nature world all together.  (Did you know they are born so tiny?  I didn’t.)

Check out “13tmp blog” via the link above to see an amazing photo captured of a tiny mantis on finger tips.  Nice macro, wouldn’t you say?

There are lots of stories about the acts of a female mantises eating her male potential partners somewhere during the mating process. Well, in a study published by Entomologytoday, (see above link), it appears they only desire the smaller males as a meal. And perhaps the head of a larger male as dessert or an appetizer?  Don’t worry though – the male still can “get it on” despite being headless, and this keeps the female sufficiently happy.

“Yah, ummm, the mommy mantis lays her one or two hundred eggs in this styrofoam mass in the fall, but before this, she eats daddy – but only if he was born small and short.  Otherwise, he has a few “duties” to accomplish and this can be done even if he’s headless.”

Guess there’s not a lot of foreplay in this mantis’s relationship.  She doesn’t eat the males while mating, but may have a bite or two as an aphrodisiac.

Or you could just change the subject to avoid the whole mommy and daddy mating gig, and show them a yellow praying mantis!
Check out “lexylesono” blog above.  A very rare sighting to see a yellow one, if not impossible, for our region.

Seriously, praying mantids are way smarter than we think, this is for sure. Besides ambushing predators, they serve as radar detectors.  For another distraction of discussing the eating rituals before mating, just show your kid the video above.  So, that’s where speeding tickets come from!  Mystery solved.

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Last summer, I accidentally sprinkled a praying mantis with water from my garden hose as he was perched on a yucca plant.  I don’t think he liked me very much.  I could tell, as he turned his head over to look at me, that he was displeased indeed. Their head swivel action makes them very unique in the bug world, for not many insects have this special ability – plus it gives you that eerie feeling that he just may spit up nasty green pea soup towards you next!

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Praying mantis are always positioned, it seems, to strike.  Their grasping forelegs are armed to snag whatever meal may happen to unknowingly pass before them as they sit and patiently wait.

The leg segment near their body is called a coxa, which is elongated, so their arms tend to be positioned in a “praying” position, but the only thing they are praying for is their unsuspecting passerby.  The strike in ‘kung fu’ style.
I know, I tried to pick one up once and screeched as it whipped its grasping legs at me.

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Did you know praying mantis eat all kinds of insects – even the good bees?  And they enjoy spiders too.  But they tend to be good guys because they take care of pest insects regularly.  Plus, they are so amazing to watch and photograph, you just can’t resist their alluring body architecture, big bulging eyes, and sleek slow movements.  And silently, but deadly, nature.

References I have in stock on insects:

“Bugs in the System” by May R. Berenbaum
“Peterson First Guides. Insects” by Christopher Leahy

Happy Monday Everyone,

Cathy Testa

9 thoughts on “Mommy, Where do baby Praying Mantis come from?

  1. The info is great ! Thank you ! I never knew a lot of it and I so need to keep my eye out for their egg sacks. So cool – never, ever, knew that. However as far as the Mantis “itself” goes… I truly don’t care much for them. Intriguing to look at for sure – but I always feel like I am being stalked !! Especially when they are in plants or on branches that are eye-level….. 🙂

    • I don’t think I would have know what that pod was either if it wasn’t for seeing it in a Master Gardeners class years ago. I agree, praying mantises have a “stalker” feeling to them, and they are fascinating, but seem to have that look of ‘don’t even irritate me’ Sometimes raised pods like these on twigs or stalks can be galls, so if you haven’t seen the ootheca before, you could get confused. Glad you enjoyed the post, Cath

      • ‘Found it skittering on the lot next to our house one early morning (always the best time to see insects). Thank you for checking out my nature shots. ‘Hope you’ll enjoy my other shots as well. 🙂

    • Thank you Kevin. Ironically, yesterday walking past a Miss Kim Lilac I spotted another ootheca! It is in a bed in my front yard, whereas the other one is the back. I had a praying mantis in that front bed last year, which is the one shown on the galvanized bucket photo. So this one must be her’s! I am glad they are making homes here.

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