Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Carolina Mantid Ootheca

Stagmomantis carolina Ootheca

Written by Megan Hippler

As the weather continues to cool this winter, visitors to Prairie Ridge can find signs of animals overwintering.  One animal that spends the winter at Prairie Ridge is the Carolina Mantid, Stagmomantis carolina. The Carolina Mantid lays its eggs in an egg case called an ootheca.  The female mantid lays her eggs in a frothy liquid secreted from her abdominal glands.  The foam hardens into a 1-2 inch long ootheca that protects the eggs through winter.  Despite its small size, each ootheca can be up to one-third of the female’s total body weight.  Although it rarely occurs, she may eat her mate if she is desperate for food.

The ootheca of a Carolina Mantid

In the spring or early summer, 20-60 young mantids, or nymphs, will abruptly emerge.  These ant-sized mantids are timid with very little appetite.  After a few molts, though, the nymphs may begin to cannibalize any nearby siblings.

You may find an ootheca in your yard.  They tend to be on tree branches or other protected areas, such as the side of your house.  Adult mantids prefer areas with flowering plants where they can wait for their prey, so these may be the best areas to start your search.

Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time Is It In Nature Archive.