When you spend all spring and summer tracking the praying mantids that have hatched and taken up residence locally, naturally you want to see the whole cycle, and that means the production of the egg sac as well. Of course, they’re not inclined to do this for an audience, so a bit of luck is involved, luck that I did not have this year. I watched one particular female molt into reproducing adult phase, growing fatter with her meals, and knew from her girth that she would be laying eggs soon. I tried to keep an eye on her, but spotted her only sporadically.
Then she reappeared with a much more trim figure, and I knew I had missed it. In the days leading up to this, she had been found newly molted on one of the front patches of pampas grass (there are three, of two different species,) then spotted on the butterfly bush, a tomato plant, the rosemary bush (where she likely ate one of the green lynx spider moms,) and finally here on the larger patch of pampas grass closest to the porch, which is a favorite haunt of the adult mantids. This led me to believe she had placed her egg sac in the pampas grass, and since this gets cut back every year, I was determined to locate it before this happened. However, on a whim today I started poking around in the azalea bush where the young had first appeared this past spring, and found the sac immediately. The azalea is not three meters from the pampas grass – it’s not like she had a ways to go. The sac is in a fairly easy location to view, so I should be able to keep an eye on it, though we’ll have to see what happens in the spring when the bush starts to leaf out and flower. I may end up cutting a little channel through the branches where I can lie underneath the bush and photograph the nymphs emerging. I could always cut the branch and keep the sac in a terrarium until the young hatched, but I’d rather leave it where it is.
And even if I miss the happy event, there will be plenty of tiny mantids running around afterwards, so I’ll have lots to photograph either way. If I were superstitious, I might have avoided saying anything at all, since too often on this blog I’ve announced something that I’m trying for that never pans out. This is nothing but confirmation bias, or negation bias if you prefer, since there are other circumstances where I have captured what I was after, and I’ve always got an ongoing list of things I’m chasing at any given time – some of them just won’t happen right away. If I fixated on them, I might get frustrated, but there are lots of other images I get in the meantime so I really can’t complain. To me, that’s the best approach to take – keep plenty of goals in mind and chase whatever presents itself. Do what you can to plan, but it’s not all in our control – just roll with it.
This year’s mantis saga, in chronological order:
Don’t mess with a nature photographer
Just a drop, please?
Not him again
A peek at the process
I had to
The stories go on (linked above)