Saturday, October 13, 2007

Looks like babies...

...or rather nymphs. That's right, baby insects or better yet, baby praying mantises. Boy am I excited, well not really. How did I become the proud keeper of praying mantis eggs?

All I really need to say is that I have two sons...end of close. Everyone who has a son, or even a daughter for that matter, is well aware of the wonderful prizes children bring home. I have never been overly squeamish, although I have my moments, and I have welcomed a wide array of insects and other creepy crawlies into my home At least when they are under proper supervision.

The latest creepy crawly to find its way in, are the Praying Mantises. Not one, but three have cycled through the house and each one is eager to stay when the time comes to set them free. Each one has been named Mantee with the applicable number of one, two and three. Mantee One was a nymph, not that old or big by any standards. How my son was able to pick him out in the grass is beyond me.

Mantee number one stayed with us for about two weeks but we just didn't have the proper food for him so away he went. Mantee number two was picked up already trying to get into our house. He was big, probably full grown and he enjoyed the crickets that we fed him on a daily basis. We have no short supply of crickets since we have a bearded dragon.

After about a month and a half, I decided that although Mantee number two was happy being hand fed, it was time he hit the road. Unfortunately, as we were releasing number two, a third Praying Mantis was again trying to sneak into the house.

In came Mantee number three and he was just as happy as can be with the cuisine we were providing. I didn't really pay attention to the Praying Mantis because let's face it, once you've seen one hunt, you've seen them all hunt. I have to admit that Mantee number three was a bit more ferocious in his hunting techniques and he was aware of food the moment it hopped into his cage.

After a few weeks of having Mantee number three, I looked in his cage and was surprised by a large, brown spongy looking pod on a stick. After some research and a few "ewwws", we determined that Mantee number three wasn't a he, it was a she. We also found out that she had decided our lovely cage was as good a place as any to secure her egg sac, properly known as a "ootheca".

Now I have a bunch of reading to do and after a long cold winter, my kids are hoping that we will be blessed with the arrival of a hundred to two hundred Praying Mantis Nymphs. I'm not exactly thrilled but I figure if they do hatch, we will release about 2/3rds of them since they are from this area, we picked them up right outside our door, and then study the life cycle of the Praying Mantis.

As for Mantee number three. She's resting well, has laid a second smaller ootheca and is still enjoying her diet of crickets and flies. We have plans on releasing her back into the wild in a few days and hopefully her eggs will hatch come spring.

I'm not sure what this makes me exactly but I suspect it is a four letter word that begins with n and ends with uts. Only spring will tell. ;o)

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