- Author: Karen Metz
It was a breezy day in the garden as my husband and I were trying to decide where to locate some plant shelves. “Hey, what's that fluff hanging from the tomato cage?” asked my husband. I came over to look. The familiar ootheca, or egg case, of the praying mantis was firmly attached to the top wire of the tomato cage. But there was definitely something below it, moving in the breeze.
As we got closer, we saw numerous nymphs clambering over each other as they came out of the egg case. They would hold tight when a gust of wind hit, forming a little nymph curtain. As soon as they could, though, they crawled along the wires of the tomato cage. They spread out quickly and soon only one or two stragglers could be found.
About a half hour later, I looked again. I only found a spider crawling along the tomato cage. I wondered if he had caught any of the praying mantis nymphs for his lunch. I hoped he hadn't gotten there in time.
According to the Natural Enemies Gallery in the UCIPM website, mantids lay their eggs in the fall. Adults do not survive the winter but the egg cases do. The nymphs emerge in spring and the life cycle continues.