Praying Mantis winter
By Sarah Zuehlke
It is that time of the year again when it gets quite cold at night and cooler in the day and the trees start to change to beautiful fall colors of orange, red and yellow. The insects know it is getting cold as well and are now preparing for the winter. Some insects sleep through the winter while others prepare their eggs to survive the winter. Praying mantises have quite an interesting way of preparing their young for the winter. A plump female praying mantis is full of eggs and when the time is right she will lay her egg case which is called an ootheca. Praying mantises protect their eggs in this foamy tan colored ootheca which is like a thick blanket around the little precious eggs. Hundreds of little baby mantises can be inside just one ootheca, and the little ones will be dormant throughout the winter, they are in diapause, and will wake up in the spring when the temperatures get warmer. Watching a female mantis tenderly create her egg case is quite amazing. She uses the end of her abdomen and cerci to create the egg case and watching how much effort and detail she puts into it is fascinating. Chinese mantises create large inch long egg cases that are roundish but Carolina mantises create long thin egg cases. Praying mantises like to lay their egg cases in bramble and grasses near where they are living. They also like to lay egg cases in your garden. A female mantis will angle the egg case just right as she is laying it so the little nymphs can hatch correctly. So if you were ever wondering how praying mantises survive the winter, it is through their offspring in well protected egg cases. Pictured here is Amber the female Chinese mantis laying her egg case a few days ago. Now her little ones are all ready for the winter.