Prevention & Pests – Praying Mantis Pods – Again

What a beauty! My husband and I went on a meadow/woodland walk over the weekend, on an intense search for praying mantis pods. We found three.

Over the course of the past two years, I stopped putting the mantis pods about the gardens because the hatched mantises might eat what I loved: butterflies, ladybugs, and hummingbirds. In fact, in my error, I think I even carried away from the yard a mantis pod or two. Big mistake!

When did I realize I had made the bad judgement call? A week or two ago, trying to get a jump on eradicating insect pests without using chemicals, I gave earnest thought to why my plant foliage had suffered constant assault during the past two summers. In short, sawflies, and other insects who devour foliage, have bamboozled me! The sawflies have been the bane of enjoying the garden beds. The hibiscus, and especially my roses, become the victims of their larvae stage munching. The rose leaves begin to resemble stained glass as the insects eat and grow larger. I have tried to handpick the pests off, but with dozens of rose bushes, it is impractical. I wondered anew why the problem has been impossible to control and realized the infestations coincided with me banning mantis pods from my gardens. We went on the mantis pod hunt a few days after this light bulb moment.

Within twenty minutes, half a mile from my home, we found three pods in the weeds bordering a dirt road. We knew there were probably hundreds more we didn’t see as they are well camouflaged among the beige and brown grasses. I don’t feel bad about moving them. The border grasses and wildflowers edging the road are considered disposable and are frequently mowed. We probably saved the pods from the whirling destruction of mower blades.

Praying Mantises are often themselves the victim of predators. Several on the predator list live in my yard or frequently visit: spiders, bearded dragons, lizards, chickens, snakes, hawks, owls, cardinals, scorpions. I would add large toads to the list and other insect-eating birds.

Problem-Solving – Unwanted Pest

I am never sorry to lose a few parsley or dill leaves to the black swallowtail caterpillar (see photograph above.) There are never too many of them; the most I have ever seen on any plant has been about six. I would never consider them a pest. On the other hand, although I think the fluttery cabbage white butterflies are pretty, I don’t like their egg-laying abilities. A few cabbage white butterflies hovering over any plant in the cabbage family means big trouble, as in the recently shredded leaves of my prized Tuscan Kale.

In the past few days I have hand-picked dozens of caterpillars off of this plant. I think I have caught up at the moment and the plant is free of pests. Where are all my praying mantis predator bugs? I was going to plant a few broccoli plants this week, but now I am rethinking it since they are members of the cabbage family too.

Here is good link to a post about this pest: Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillar