Monday, October 5, 2009

Praying Mantis

Nuala and MantisMantis in Cuxa Garden

Above, left: Volunteer gardener Nuala Outes befriending a mantis in Bonnefont Garden last summer; right: one of three adult mantises seen recently on the asters now blooming in Cuxa garden.

The European praying mantis is so named because of the manner in which it raises and extends its grasping forelegs before seizing its prey, suggesting an attitude of prayer. This omnivorous species was not among the beneficial insects released in the gardens this summer as part of our biological pest control program, although several mantises already inhabited Trie and Bonnefont gardens. However, the mantis population does seem to be on the rise, and no less than three of the insect predators were recently spied in Cuxa garden on a windy day, clinging to a single planting of ‘Hella Lacy,’ a cultivated form of the native New York aster now blooming along the roadsides.

The sexual cannibalism for which the mantis is notorious seems to be more common in captivity; it is less frequently and readily observed by entomologists in the field and is the subject of scholarly debate. Autumn is the mating season for praying mantises in our climate, although we haven???t observed any unions. The compound eyes and binocular vision over a wide field—characteristic of mantises—make them at least as aware of us as we are of them, and they clearly register their consciousness of our presence when we encounter them in the gardens.

—Deirdre Larkin

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Comments (5)

  1. thea mcginnis Says:

    i found one lazing around on one of my climbing roses. It obviously thought I couldn’t see it..until I said hello! its posture then developed a rather wary, tentative pose. I reassured it not to worry and to have a nice day and moved along in my garden.

  2. Nancy Heraud Says:

    I actually had an egg case that hatched several years ago and I got to see the baby mantises coming out! I see a praying mantis in our garden from time to time and hope they are the ones that came out of that egg case that warm, sunny day! Gardens are wonderful laboratories! I’m always learning every day! Thank you for reminding me!

  3. Tony King Says:

    Being involved in pest control we had a call recently regarding crickets which are from the same family as the praying mantis, it wasnt something that we would deal with and to be honest I do not class them as pests. I also did Praying Mantis Kung Fu which would explain what thea mcginnis says about the posture of the Praying Mantis, they are indeed remarkable creatures.

  4. pest Says:

    biolgical pest control is an area we have been looking into now if only we could find something to eat bed bugs :)

  5. Conn Hanson Says:

    I have read that the cannibalism is believed to be due to researchers’ inability to keep the voracious female properly fed in captivity. So, the cannibalism is mainly situational. I’m not an entomologist, however, so I could easily be wrong.

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