Give or take an inch
As regular readers will know, we’ve featured the praying mantis several times here on Environmental Graffiti. But today we’re not interested in these creatures’ ferociousness as predators or their alien appearance; instead, we want to take a look at the early part of their life cycle – their childhood development, so to speak. What do praying mantis babies look like, how tiny are they and how dangerous are they as predators?
Image: Michael Gallegos
All young mantids start their life as a frothy egg mass called ootheca. Depending on the species, mantis females lay from 10-400 eggs after their mating season in the fall. They wrap the eggs in this frothy mass, produced by glands in their abdomen. The ootheca can be attached to a flat surface, deposited in the ground or wrapped around a plant.
Image: Omar de Armas
There’s something between my fingers
From the very beginning, mantises are well protected as the froth hardens and thus forms a protective capsule around the eggs, somewhat like a cocoon. A protective coat insulates it further so that the eggs can withstand the winter.