I have praying mantises!
A couple of years ago, I had a landscape company do a bunch of work in front of my house, including drainage, a new front walkway, and most relevant to this post, a retaining wall and new foundation plantings--laurels, dwarf camellias, azaleas, yews, and autumn ferns. I'm not much of a gardener, but considering how much money I spent on the landscape work, I make some effort to keep the foundation plants healthy. It turns out that there are various things in my yard that like to munch on my plants and trees, and the laurels have gotten hit especially hard. A bit of research indicated the culprit was probably a type of weevil that insecticides aren't much use against.
So last year I found a seller on Amazon that sells some organic gardening/farming stuff, bought some beneficial nematodes (which are supposed to eat "bad" insects like weevil larva), and put them around the laurels. I don't know if they were responsible, but the laurels perked up.
This year, the laurels are getting eaten again, so I bought some more nematodes from the same seller, who also had praying mantis egg cases on sale. I bought two egg cases and stuck each in a Big Gulp-type cup with a lid on it. The seller said it would take a couple of months for the eggs to hatch, but this afternoon I saw teeny-tiny mantises, about the size of a carpenter ant, in one of the cups. I took the cup outside and shook it over the plants. I figure there were at least 50 little mantises, and it's possible that more were yet to hatch (I also put the egg casing outside).
From what I've read, it's a pretty dangerous life for a newly hatched praying mantis, so I'm sure many of the babies won't survive. But I hope at least a few do. They hunt down and eat all kinds of insects (they don't discriminate between bad and good insects, unfortunately), so I hope their presence will cut down on the number of things eating my plants. Plus, they're just very cool to look at.
Oh, the post title is from the best song with a praying-mantis reference ever written (OK, possibly the only song with a praying-mantis reference): "Praying Mantis" by Don Dixon. Have a listen here: http://youtu.be/3VOwoWlyDpE
- She wanted his body so much she ate his brain