It Came From Outer Space!

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while now:

In February, I found a some sort of pod attached to a tree branch.  I wasn’t sure what it was exactly, but I knew it wasn’t a natural bloom from the tree.  I cut it off and brought it home with the idea that I would find out sooner or later what was in it.  For weeks, it sat motionless in a plastic container on my desk.  It didn’t grow or shrink.  It didn’t change color or wilt along with the leaves I cut off with it.  It didn’t do much of anything, actually.  After a month, the plastic box with the pod blended in with the rest of the stuff on my desk.  From time to time, a book would be placed on top of it.  My keys.  My wallet.

In early April, I went on a weekend trip to the desert (as reported here). When I returned…


The plastic container was filled with over 60-70 baby praying mantises!

For a week, I watched the population grow to about 100 mantis hatchlings. Some ended up dying soon after their birth and littering the bottom of the container. Others were eaten by the marbled cellar spider (Holocnemus pluchei) I had in the container long before the pod (which I now know is called an ootheca).

Looking in from time to time, I was able to photograph the birth of a mantis. It pops out of the pod and hangs from a thread as it untangles itself. Click on the image below to view it large.

Eventually, I let the baby mantises loose in a bush outside of my apartment.

Maybe in a few months, I’ll have a few adult mantises to photograph!

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  • Praying Mantises are my favorite insect! You should see some of the amazingly beautiful variety there are out there in this world. There's lots of pictures on my Fan page for them on Facebook!
  • Very cool, Peter! Some of those mantises are out of this world!
  • Tom
    Wow, exciting stuff. Are you rearing a few to photograph as it gets bigger?
  • Hey Tom,

    No, I didn't keep any. I'm hoping to find one or two later this year outside for a reunion photo shoot. :)
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