First Mantis I've Seen This Year

David Trammel's picture

Recently the movie "The Meg" has been at the top of the box office. It is another in the "oh NO!, there is a prehistoric shark in the Ocean!!!" movies. The Megladon, was a apex predator of the past that roamed the oceans when prey was huge and could support it.

Its a popular subject of films lately because everyone loves sharks, and huge sharks are even cooler, lol.

But every ecosystem, from largest to smallest, has its predators.

I was pleasantly surprised when I went out into the garden tonight and discovered this young lady on one of my hanging baskets.

Now even though she is the first one I have spotted this year, I know that praying mantis' are in my garden. You could consider them one of the apex predators of the micro gardening world.

Its been a brutal few days with the heat above a hundred, so I'm not surprised to find her in one of my Purslane plants. As succulents they do better at surviving hot temperatures without wilting. Notice how she blends in with the plants leaves. They also have many flowers, which attract the kind of prey she is looking for.

"Don't mind me tiny insect, I'm just a leaf. I won't eat you, promise..."

Mantises, along with Lady Bugs, which are a voracious aphid predator, are often advertised as a "natural" pest control. That is quick fix unless you are a Green Wizard and know to consider the entire system of your garden's habitat, when making big changes like introducing a flood of predators.

Stepping back for a moment, I once had a coworker who bought a praying mantis egg pod. They are available on the Internet. You put the egg pod into a small terrarium, and let it hatch. Soon you have dozens of tiny mantis.

They often send you a small insect trap, which lets you gather insects from your yard and garden to introduce into the terrarium as food for the young mantises. Problem is not many people are up to supplying the amount of prey needed to feed dozens of hungry predators. Soon those young mantis turn to cannibalism. You are left eventually with one fat and satisfied mantis.

Your garden is filled with many insects, some harmful but many of them beneficial. Removing them can drastically affect your garden's health.

Consider well all of the effects before you change things.

The kids (great-nieces) found one at the picnic shelter Sunday in a wooded park. My seven year old niece has a tendency to love bugs to death, so I stepped in. It was green and curious. It ran up my arm and over my back. Somebody took it from me, but I think it escaped alive. Didn't think to take a picture of it. Somebody said they bite, but I'm usually full of cat scratches, so I didn't worry about it.

David Trammel's picture

I forgot to post these after I took them but remembered them when I moved this post. Late Fall and this green lady decided the tip of the Shepard hook that holds my bird feeder was the perfect place to perch. Hope she got herself a snack.