The mantis in my yard

Thanks to my observant son, I saw the coolest thing the other day.

I was outside pulling weeds while the kids were riding their bikes up and down the block. All of the sudden they stopped at the house next door and started yelling,   “Mom! Mom!  Come look at this praying mantis!  It’s going to have a baby!”  I love that my children want to share these things with me.

Do you know about these critters?  Praying mantises are about as close to charismatic megafauna as an insect can come.  They’re big enough that you can actually see their personalities.  If you move your fingers in front of them, they’ll turn their little heads, watching its every twitch.  Olivia had a friend as a kid who had one as a pet.  She’d stick it on her head like a little cap and walk around with it.  All the neighbor kids thought she was the coolest girl around.  Mantises are like chameleons, they camouflage themselves and hide, waiting for an unsuspecting fly to pass by.  They reach out with those wicked-fast pincers (they can’t hurt you with them) and nab up the fly and gobble it down.  Look on youtube… there are videos of these guys eating fish, mice, and trying for hummingbirds.  Incredible!

But I digress.

Dropping my handful of weeds, I jogged over to see a tan colored mantis with a rather fat abdomen staggering (literally) across the sidewalk. She didn’t look so good and I thought for sure she had been struck by a bike . Thinking she might die at any moment we relocated her to a bush by our front door to live out what little time she had left.

I saw her the next day still on the bush. She was still alive, and still looking terrible.

The next day I noticed her on a rock close by, and look what she was doing!

The kids were right! She was getting ready to have a baby… or rather, getting ready to lay an egg case full of potentially a few hundred babies. Check out this video of a mantis laying an egg case in fast motion.

But I was right too. After she laid her egg case she crawled down from the rock, sorta passed out underneath it, and died. Nature can be so sad.

The next day the ants came to haul off her edible parts.

The day after that we gave her a proper burial next to her growing babies.

It was so cool! I mean, sad she had to die, but witnessing the whole process was awesome.  (But I’m kind of a nerd like that).

So now I’m thinking we can’t miss seeing these guys hatch (check out this video). Especially since we recently finished reading Charlotte’s Web. Wilber helped Charlotte’s babies on their way, so we need to be there for Mantis.

I’ve been doing a little research. Apparently you can rear these out sorta like you would if you found a butterfly chrysalis. I found this great Praying Mantis care sheet from Carolina Biological that tells you everything you need to know about rearing out some little mantises.

So should you see a praying mantis egg case during your fall yard clean-up bring it inside and watch what happens!

Oh, and one final thing, in case I haven’t convinced you that praying mantises are cool… here’s a picture Olivia took of one in Greece.  This little guy was smaller than my pinky finger.

12 Comments so far

Comments Feed
  1. Lindsey, I love your posts. I learn so much about insects that I didn’t know. We love to look at a Praying Mantis. They do look cool. We’ve never gotten close enough to analyze their behavior because (I hate to admit this) but we always heard that they would spit on you. SInce you did not mention it, I would imagine it is not true:)

    • Tiffany – Thanks! I use to tote around Mantids all the time as a kid, and I never got spit on! They ARE pretty awesome.

  2. Rad! Mantises are among my favorite creatures, but I so rarely see them. Thx for sharing :)

  3. That is really awesome! I love seeing mantids, though I have never seen one laying eggs.

    Tiffany, a coworker of mine back when I worked in Florida put one on her arm in the Everglades—it did not spit.

  4. My hubby is a total bug nerd & Mantis is his all-time favorite. We have raised many, many of these guys w/ varied success, but we’re looking forward to finally sharing the experience with our kids. I’ll let you know how it goes …

    • Debi – Really! You have? This is new territory for me. So have you actually raised an egg case you found in the wild? The only care information I could find goes along with cases you buy, I just assumed you would follow the same care procedures for an egg case found in the wild… but I don’t know.

  5. Amber


  6. weird! That last one reminds me of the bad guy on transformers :)

    • Shawna – It does!! I’m going to have to point that out to my transformer addicted child.

  7. Maura

    I’ll never forget when a student of mine brought in an egg case he found. I thought one big praying mantis was going to hatch out of it…imagine my surprise! : ) We did pretty well caring for them too until finally releasing them outside.

    • Maura – Hahaa, I bet that was a surprise! I don’t think I’d given it that much thought either, I would have been totally surprised to see that many babies coming out too! Can’t wait for ours to hatch!

  8. […] habitat or filling full of ‘treasures’. You can even present the cage with an insect or egg case or even a hermit crab already living in […]


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

    I don't blog alone! Meet outsidemom contributer Olivia