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Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) Eggcase (ootheca)

If you look around at about 1-4 ft off the ground in brush, you can find mantis egg cases. These eggcases are called "ootheca" in science, which means there are multiple babies inside ready to hatch given the cue. This one was found about 10 feet from one of our greenhouses, and is about 1.5 inches long. It was laid last fall by a native mantis called the Carolina mantis. The shape of the case helps to tell us who laid it. This shape is long and narrow; if it was much rounder it would probably be a Chinese mantis, which is non-native and very common. The baby mantids (pleural of mantis) are inside, and once the weather warms up in the spring, they will all hatch out and look for food and shelter. Mantids are great to have in a garden (for the same reason they may not be that great): they are amazing predators that eat anything they can catch, beneficial or not. They can even eat small vertebrates (animals with backbones, like frogs and lizards) if they can catch them. Mantids typically only live for one year, and rely on their eggcase making it through the winter to keep the population going. If the winter is particular harsh, there may be fewer mantids the following year. Luckily, mantid mothers don’t all pick the same place to lay their eggs. Regardless of how bad a winter is, there should always be some mantids making it through the winter to repopulate the next season.

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