Monday, November 07, 2005

Praying Mantis Fighting Skills

Raising praying mantises can be a fascinating experience provided you have the time, but if you plan on raising them indoors for pets you might want to keep only one or two to start with as finding food sources can be very time consuming, especially when they are first hatched. Food sources for the young mantids are more easily found after the seasonal rain stops and the temperature outside become constant, once the daily highs reach 70 degrees F. You might want to first learn about raising crickets and vinegar or fruit flies. It is possible to keep them from hatching to early thru refrigeration.
One of the most interesting things I have enjoyed about the adult praying mantises besides the their ability to swivel their heads 180 degrees, are certain qualities about their eyes which seem almost mystical in that the pupil of the eye always seem to be pointed towards your view, but you can not see it move, it is just there when you change positions. It has to do with the structure of their eyes, but it is hard to understand when you see it. Their eyes also will turn red-brown in the dark.
These photos are one of two adult female praying mantises, which share the same aquarium. If one gets too close to the other, they will assume this posture, and defend their space. They might stay like this for hours till one of them attacks the other or until one or both back away from each other. If they do fight it is very brief and does not come down to fatal blows as they are equally matched in size, age and close to being equal in fighting skills, and usually results in one of them retreating to the bottom of the cage. The outcome might be different if they were not so well fed. In the case of male and female sharing the same cage at this age, the male would be lucky to escape with his life or without serious wounds and its only a matter of time before he becomes a meal.
One of these picture shows an ootheca (egg case) which she attached to a branch earlier in the season.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Carolina Female Praying Mantis Pictures

Three photo images of a green Carolina praying mantis. She was born on April 20, 2005, and this picture was taken on August 30,2005. She is full grown and has already mated. Her abdomen is large and she is ready to lay eggs, which as it turned out happened the next day. It took her three and one half hours to lay one large egg case.

What is interesting about her is that she is the only one of the surviving mantids from the same two egg cases, (oothecas), that remained a green color after the final molt, even though she was raised in the same environment with the same moisture content. Supposedly it is the humidity which determines the praying mantises color. In moist conditions they are supposed to be green, and in dry conditions they are supposed to be more brown, but obviously their is more to it than that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Praying Mantis Exoskeletons

Photos of some of the larger exoskeletons gathered through the season. These epidermis exoskeletons which cover the mantids are shed many times as the praying mantis grows. It is mostly done at night during which time they are in a vulnerable position, unable to defend themselves as well till they are free from this shell. It can take several hours of hanging upside down letting gravity do the work, slowly pulling them free. The exoskeletons show all the details of the mantid body including the tiny antennae on top of the head. They repeat this procedure over and over till they reach adulthood. On the last shedding they reveal their wings and no longer shed in this manner.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Adult Praying Mantis

Adult Praying Mantis searching for ? Lost Atlantis ? Here is Big Boy, my largest Carolina mantis. She has grow so large that she now has trouble moving about her cage. She needs larger branches in order to hold on, and the glass surface of the aquarium has become very difficult for her. I am still waiting for her to lay her eggs, (oothecas). I plan on separating the egg cases for next years hatch to see if I can notice any differences between hatchlings. I wanted to get pictures of her eyes turning red, which happens in the evening at sunset, but there was to much light in the room. This is a very strange the first time you see this happen, I thought I was imagining it the first time I saw it. The hole eye turns red, not just a small pupal area, and they have a shimering effect when light is shined on them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mosquitoes in Your Garden? Try Planting These


Mosquitoes in Your Garden? Try Planting These
By Scottie Johnson

If you are a serious gardener, you spend lots of time outdoors. And, for sure, you would rather be tending your plants than swatting mosquitoes.

While there are many things you can do to keep mosquitoes away, there are some plants that will beautify your yard and help repel mosquitoes.

As one more way to keep mosquitoes away from you and your yard, try planting these attractive plants.


Horsemint has a scent similar to citronella. Horsemint grows wild in most of the Eastern United States, from Mexico, Texas up to Minnesota to Vermont. It is partial to sandy soils and will grow in USDA Zones 5-10. Native Americans used it as a treatment for colds and flu. It has natural fungicidal and bacterial retardant properties because it's essential oils are high in thymol.


This wonderful herb we use for seasoning is also a great, natural mosquito repellant. It has been used for centuries to keep pesky mosquitoes away. Rosemary is a native of the Mediterranean, so it likes hot, dry weather and well-drained soil. It is hardy in USDA zones 8-10, and must be grown as a pot plant in colder climates. If you happen to live in a part of the country where rosemary does not grow, you can get a good quality rosemary essential oil; mix 4 drops with 1/4 cup olive oil. Store in a cool, dry place. When it comes to fresh plant oils as natural mosquito repellants, there is every reason to have the plant in your yard, if they will grow in your area. It is an inexpensive and attractive way to boost the appearance of the landscape and have natural mosquito repellants on hand as well.


Organic gardeners have used marigolds as companion plants to keep aphids away. Mosquitoes dont like its scent any better (and some humans feel the same way). Marigolds are sun-loving annuals that come in a variety of shapes and sizes for almost any landscape. They are quite easy to grow from seed.


This charming little bedding plant contains coumarin, and mosquitoes detest the smell. It is used in the perfume industry and is even in some commercial mosquito repellants. Dont rub ageratum on your skin, though. It has some other less desirable elements that you dont want to keep on your skin in quantity. Ageratums are annuals, and the come in a muted blue and white that compliments most other plantings.


There are two types of plants that are called mosquito plants. One is a member of the geranium family that was genetically engineered to incorporate the properties of citronella. Citronella only grows in tropical places, but it is a well known repellant for mosquitoes. This plant was created to bring the repellant properties of citronella into a hardier plant. It will grow where any geranium will thrive. Many have questioned its usefulness as a mosquito repellant, but it is attractive enough to warrant planting for its ornamental value.

The other kind of mosquito plant is agastache cana. Its common names include Texas hummingbird mint, bubblegum mint, giant hyssop, or giant hummingbird mint. As you might guess, hummingbirds are quite attracted to it.

It is a New Mexico native, also found in parts of Texas. It is, in fact, a member of the mint family and its leaves do have a pungent aroma when crushed. In its native habitat, it is perennial, and is usually hardy in USDA Zones 5a-9a. It blooms late summer to early fall, so it catches hummingbirds on their annual migration. The long, medium pink flowers reel in butterflies as well.


One of the most powerful mosquito repellant plants is ordinary catnip. Recent studies have shown that it is ten times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes. It is a short lived perennial throughout most of the United States. It is easy to grow from seed, and quickly reseeds. Aside from its intoxicating effects on cats, the leaves make a very soothing tea.

With all of these plants, the leaves must be crushed to release the aroma. Otherwise mosquitoes cant smell them. And, with rosemary and catnip, you can simply crush a few leaves and rub on your skin and clothing to enhance the effect.

So, next time you are revising your plantings, consider using some of these attractive plants to do more than just enhance the landscape. You can have pretty ornamentals that also drive mosquitoes away.

About The Author

Scottie Johnson is a life long mosquito warrior and freelance writer dedicated to eliminating mosquitoes from her life. She is also an organic gardener. For more information about mosquito control in your home and yard, visit her website at Copyright 2004 All rights reserved. Copies of this article may be used on websites and in e-zines provided the resource biography and URL are not removed prior to reproduction.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Losing His Head over Something in Mind

Let me introduce you to my little friend. This is Big Boy, the same Carolina mantis in the picture that opens this web log, only now she has grown wings, and at the moment she is very rattled. In the other part of the cage which you can not see in this photo, she was about to attack a male who had something else in mind and had gotten too close, and as she did she accidentally disturbed another female that was hanging nearby. The second female unexpectedly attacked her from behind, and Big Boy spun around in defense flaring and rattling her wings. It was a rare moment in the cage, and I was lucky to get this image. The male ran off and the two females stood frozen in attacking positions each showing off their sharp talons. It took several hours for them to slowly back away from each other and fold up their wings. In my experience, the females rarely attack each other like this. Later in the week, I found the male unfortunately lying on the bottom of the cage, missing his head. Apparently whatever he had in mind was cause enough for him to lose it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Good or Bad Oothecas

Here are some images of last seasons oothecas, (egg cases) that have already hatched out. Each egg case holds from twenty to two hundred young praying mantises, so the experts say, but out of all my egg cases that hatched I am very doubtful if any contained quite two hundred, but try counting live baby mantises running around in a single cage. Everytime you get to around ten you have to start over.
These were gathered in the wild and many did not hatch. It can be difficult to tell the difference between oothecas from previous seasons as many will stay in place for years before eroding and falling from its branch, but there are several indicators that will help. The lighter the color the better, some will look fresher than others and those are most likely good, but even if they look dried up, do not disregard them as many of those are also good. Some will have obvious defects like fractures or small blow-outs and those are no good. Generally the ones that have a light colored film still covering the two rows of tiny holes in the front are good, but do not throw away any until you have a chance to throughly examine them. I do know that some will look bad, but when you break them open, they are fresh and viable.
Do not pull them off the branch or stick or the might be damaged. Some of them will not hatch if the conditions are not right as they need humidy and warm temperatures. Do not put them in a paper bag in the window like some say to do with out taking them out every few days and misting them lightly with a water spray or misting the paper bag.
I will be selling some ootheca which will be available in December, 2005, if anyone would like to purchase some.