I was hunting for butterfly eggs on a Pongamia tree , when I found this egg case of praying mantis also called as ootheca. I remembered that these egg cases can be reared at home, so brought it home. On browsing on the web I found clear instructions on how to rear the egg case.
I kept the egg case in a ventilated bottle so that I could observe them if the egg was hatched. It became a daily routine for me to check on this as soon as I woke up. This wait was too long , more than a month and after the recent sighting of the praying mantis egg case during the NTP which Kannan attended, I was getting more impatient. But having seen some open egg cases, I convinced myself that this egg would hatch and I needed to be patient. To my luck the day it had hatched I noticed it late in the morning after the kids were just leaving for school. Had I noticed it earlier the kids would have missed school. Had I noticed it much later then the mantises would have eaten each other. The timing was just right.
The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids. Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong. By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long “neck,” or elongated thorax. Mantids can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them.
Typically green or brown and well camouflaged on the plants among which they live, mantis lie in ambush or patiently stalk their victim . They use their front legs to snare their prey with reflexes so quick that they are difficult to see with the naked eye. Their legs are further equipped with spikes for snaring prey and pinning it in place.
Reference link below:
A newly hatched mantis still hanging on to the remains of the egg case.
When we wanted to have a closer look at the Mantids we opened the bottle to find about a hundred of them .They kept on coming out of the bottle while some of them chose to stay.
They were released in my garden where mealy bugs, spiders, mosquitoes, ants, wasps, bees and many other insects reside. They are cannibalistic in nature. The most famous example of this is the notorious mating behavior of the adult female, who sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behavior seems not to deter males from reproduction.Females lay several egg cases (oothecae) a few days after mating. The female will hang upside down from a branch, produce a white foam and form the egg case from that foam. She’ll lay her eggs and the foam will harden to form a protective shield around the eggs. Each case contains up to 200 eggs. These eggs will hatch four to six weeks later and the tiny mantids will start to molt, or shed their first exoskeleton. The female won’t stick around to meet or raise her children. She won’t even live much longer.
Organic gardeners who avoid pesticides encourage mantises as a form of biological pest control. Tens of thousands of mantis egg cases are sold each year in some garden stores abroad for this purpose.
This mantis is trying to settle down in my garden.
Some Mantids still hang on the egg case from where they originated.
Some choose to come out of the bottle. It is a struggle for food for the mantids once they come out of the egg case, if they do not find enough food they end up eating each other.
Praying Mantids can be effectively used as a natural pest control agent.But due to the use of chemical pesticides these insects perish.
On browsing for links on the natural pest control agents I came across this link on how our health depends on biodiversity http://chge.med.harvard.edu/resource/how-our-health-depends-biodiversity.
The eminent Harvard biology Professor Edward O.Wilson once said about ants, “We need them to survive, but they don’t need us at all.” The same, in fact, could be said about countless other insects, bacteria, fungi, plankton, plants, and other organisms.
“We believe that once people really grasp what is at stake for their health and their lives, and for the health and lives of their children, they will do everything in their power to protect the living world.” – Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein
There are thousands of insects which feed on other insects, for example, lady bird, praying mantis, wasps, weaver ants, spiders,small birds, lizards, frogs and so on. Farmers have no knowledge that the chemical pesticides eradicate Predators (friendly insects that act as parasites and feed on harmful insects) and thereby destroy the beneficial insects and other natural predators on their farms, losing the crops and also hard earned money. Farmers need to be taught about the importance of protecting beneficial insects . They are not only ecofriendly but also cost effective and safe.
Organic farming has been shown, in general, to be more energy eﬃcient and drought resistant,and signiﬁcantly better at preserving agro-ecosystem biodiversity than conventional farming.
We can start from home by not using pesticides in our gardens and by sensitizing people around us about the advantages of having these beneficial insects around us .