By cabbagetree

Too Little, Too Soon

My praying mantis radar was working well this morning. After walking past the iron stake supporting the apple tree I had the urge to go back. An ootheca (egg case) was hatching and there were tiny (5mm long) nymphs all round it. I counted 18. They are very small, even for newborns, and they will have to survive frosts and the odd wintry storm. At this stage they are translucent, with a pale back stripe, and their eyes have a dark covering. A couple of hours later they have a dark back stripe and their eyes are clear and bright.

I’m sad they have hatched so early. There will be very few this season. I have found only six ootheca instead of the twenty-odd I usually find at the end of a season. Two of these were in impossible places (e.g. the underneath of a deciduous leaf) and I put them in a small terrarium on the veranda. Perhaps I should put them in a cooler place to delay hatching.

In the extra shot are two sides of the stake with newborns airing themselves before moving away. By late afternoon they were dispersed among the apple blossoms and nearby flowers.

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