Sunday, March 27, 2016

Say A Little Prayer Before Cannibalizing Your Siblings

Praying Mantis Cocoon, 2016

We've had some very mild weather, and while doing some much needed yard work, my wife came across this cocoon attached to a branch she'd just pruned.  Instead of tossing it into the giant paper yard waste bag, she gave it to me.  True love!  Anyway, I wasn't sure exactly what sort of insect had constructed this cocoon, but a quick google search righted my ignorance.  And as always happens when you come across something new, I learned about the life cycle of praying mantis:  egg, nymph, adult.  Pretty basic, and only remarkable in that while a nymph they are classified as hemimetabolic, as they under go an incomplete metamorphosis.  A nymph praying mantis looks exactly like the adult counterpart, only very small.  Typically an insect in the nymph stage looks nothing like the adult it will become.  So, in time, 100-200 mini-mantids will hatch from this cocoon and begin fleeing the jar lest they get eaten by their siblings.  I've taken the jar outside because ideally they'll hatch when the ambient temperature is conducive to supporting insect life.  I've also made it easy for them to escape the jar, although I hope that I get to witness their emergence as I would like to direct some of them to certain areas of my garden - to keep down pest insects, especially those blasted cabbage butterflies and their young!

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