Greetings, lovely people!
Today, we’ll be talking about the praying mantis, species diversity, and ecological niches. All photographs and video were taken by me at the local arboretum and are indicative of a sort of capsule environment you might find in such a locale. Specifically, today’s discussion is regarding the mantis’ egg-stage development. There will be follow-up posts as the nymphs (baby mantises), hatch and develop.
Spring has arrived, and with it comes the reemergence of our insect friends. There are more likely than not pollinators, pest controllers, and symbiotes living in your spring-time garden, you know. Different species have particular requirements or habitats, some more selective than others, as we briefly discussed in the last post, regarding the habitat construction and food source of Monarch butterflies.
Today, we’re talking about the beginning stages of the praying mantis life cycle. As with most insect species, mantises are egg-laying creatures. In order to protect the vulnerable eggs, a foamy, tunnel-like structure forms around the eggs.
The mantis egg case can hold anywhere between ten and four hundred nymphs (baby mantises), and often adults lay eggs in the Autumn. Eggs hatch in the Spring and each of the tiny creatures has to make its own way out of the case. The foamy honeycomb-like construction offers easier access to the outside world to these miniature mantids, ensuring the higher likelihood that more of the offspring would actually find food and ultimately survive to maturity. As with some other species, especially insects, while mantids prey on garden pests, they sometimes cannibalize others of their species. However, most often it is birds or other predatory insects that ultimately thin the population.
I was not aware how many mantid species there actually were before I started writing this. Apparently the “mantis” designation includes over 2,400 distinct species. These species can further be divided into about 430 genera, belonging to 15 separate families From my research and analysis of comparative photographs, this example appears to belong to Stagmomantis californica, or the California Praying Mantis. I’ll talk more about them in later posts, but they tend to be smaller than the variety found in the Carolinas and are found throughout California. Only time will tell how these little creatures develop, but I will keep you all appraised of their journey into the world. I’ll share more about these fascinating creatures in the next round.
Till next time, be well.
Dave’s Garden: https://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3021
National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/p/praying-mantis/