If you find a styrofoam-like bundle that looks like this on one of your plants you should count yourself lucky! This little garden find is the hardened egg case of a female Mantid.
Hallmarks of a Mantid Egg Case:
- Firm spongy texture
- Clearly visible layers
- What looks like a seam running down the side of the case
- A clearly round, or completely oval shape with tapered edges
- The case is found attached to the stem of a flower, shrub or tree
What Kind of Praying Mantis Do I Have?
The egg case pictured above was made by a Eurasian variety of Mantid, which produces round, tan, egg sacks. Eurasian egg cases are often left on flowers, or small shrubs. The North American variety of Praying Mantis produces a long, tapered, oval case, and usually leaves it on the branches of a larger bush or tree. Both varieties of Praying Mantis thrive across the United States.
How Are They Made?
Praying Mantis egg cases are produced in the late summer by one female Praying Mantis, and can contain around 200 individual eggs that will hatch in the spring. While it may look like an overcooked S’more marshmallow, it is one of up to three egg cases that one female can produce with one or more male partners. It’s lightly layered tiers contain what many believe is a naturally occurring anti-freeze, that insulates the eggs from freezing temperatures, and protects them from frost. Spring weather triggers the development of the embryos, which begin to develop after about three weeks of steady 50 degree temperatures.
Do I Want To Find This In My Yard?
Yes, you absolutely want to find a Praying Mantis egg case in your yard! Mantises are by all accounts voracious carnivorous creatures that begin eating other insect a few moments after they hatch, and rarely stop eating after that moment. They are an incredible help in an organic garden, hunting down and eating virtually every garden pest that attacks your flowers and veggies, and what’s even better, they like to select a home base, and will live in your yard for their entire life span. Imagine for a second all the help 200 little pest control hunters can be in your yard. They are such a valuable asset around the farm and garden that many people order egg cases online to be shipped to them to use as a natural pest control option. When they are freshly hatched they are only big enough to eat ants, and aphids, but they search for progressively larger food sources the larger they become, and can take down crickets, roaches, centipedes and even each other.
Praying Mantises are more likely to be found in yards that do not use pesticide, because they are just as susceptible to the spray as their food sources. They are a valuable member of a home-owner’s Integrated Pest Management Team, and can naturally reduce and control infestations of insects with absolutely no damage to the environment.
This egg case was one of four that I found in my yard this year, attached to a Mum, a Raspberry bush, my Forsythia, and my largest hedge roses! If you’re like me and find yourself stumbling across this type of thing when you are pruning, make sure to salvage the case, and tuck it somewhere near where you found it, where the young will be sure to be near a food source.