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.

Phascination – Mantis Pods/Yes or No?

A recent winter walk revealed several mantis pods (ootheca) in Tall Pines State Preserve. I’ve never seen a pod as secure as this one atop a tall meadow tree. I don’t think a mouse, squirrel or bird would be able to hold on long enough to ravage the pod for food.

In past years, winter would find me actively searching out mantis pods to place in my garden as free insect control. I’ve stopped the hunt after reading several articles about praying mantids capturing small birds. Now an inner dilemma will arise when I spy a mantis in my gardens. Do I leave the predator or carry it off into the woods and away from the hummingbird/butterfly plants I grow in my garden? I know the choice I will make now and in the future…I will carry them away. The hummingbirds and butterflies will have my protection. It’s funny how your perspective changes when you find out more facts than you wanted to know.

Mantis pods also fall victim to predatory creatures. This pod was probably eaten by a hungry mouse or bird.

Today’s post is part of Jo’s Monday Walk.