Gathan Beaga

mantis ootheca

Praying MantisThat’s the word of the day. Ootheca.

After we got back from lunch I happened to be flicking the fallen leaves out of the car’s gutters when I saw a praying mantis down in the gutter between the back window and the boot lid.

It turned out to be a female creating (what is the right word here?) her ootheca. (It seems to be the time of the year for it – here’s a recent Wellington one, and my one of a few years back too.)

I got Rebecca, the kids and their grandparents out and we crowded around for a closer look.

She was extruding a foamy meringue-like substance that actually looked rather tasty (I’m salivating thinking about brandy-snaps right about now):

Praying Mantis ootheca creation

The whole process took about an hour, and afterwards I got her to model for a photo before releasing her to the sanctuary of a nearby walnut tree.

Meanwhile, we now have an awful responsibility. What are we going to do with the ootheca? It will eventually pop off the flexible rubber seal that it’s been laid on, and will be washed away by the action of air or water. I can’t bear the thought of all those lovely mantis babies being lost.

I guess we’ll just have to peel it away tomorrow, once it hardens, and keep it safely in a jar until hatching time. Could be interesting.

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