Praying Mantis

Text and photo by Sandra Werner

I had the great good fortune of witnessing the praying mantis life cycle in my garden starting back in May 2011 when I watched one lay its egg case on a metal porch railing. Three months later the nymphs emerged, tiny and perfect, hanging out mostly on basil plants. They also appeared on a hebe where I think they spent most of their time catching and feeding on insects.

My love affair with them diminished slightly when I observed them catching and eating honey bees. I had read that they didn't discriminate between eating pesty insects like flies and mosquitoes and beneficial insects like lady bugs but it was still somewhat disturbing to witness them consuming honey bees.

In March they developed wings and became very interested in each other. According to the literature they only live eight months. It's May 2012 and I haven't seen them in the garden... until...

 

... the nymphs emerge from their egg case, 22 - 24 September 2012.

From the 22nd - 24th of September 2012 at around 9am and lasting for about an hour each morning, a total of around 20 or so nymphs emerged from their egg case on my cement step. And so begins another cycle.

Our native praying mantis is being pushed out and threatened by the recently accidentally introduced South African or Springbok Mantis. Ours is ALWAYS green and has blue spots on its forearms. Read more to learn the differences between ours and the invasive pest.

Last Updated: 05/09/2015 4:52pm