Autumn not only brings the changing of leaves and cooler weather but also a plethora of insect eggs. Insect species that don’t live through the winter will lay their eggs in the fall so that their young can emerge in the spring. We have enjoyed counting the abundance of oothecas, large egg masses produced by female mantids, attached to vegetation along the prairie’s edge. The oothecas we have found are from the Chinese Mantis (Tenodera aridifolia). The females of this large mantis produces an average of three oothecas with up to 200 eggs each!
The Chinese Mantis, introduced to the United States for pest control in 1895, is the largest species of mantis in North America. This large insect can grow to 4-inches long and supplements its insect diet with small vertebrates such as lizards and frogs. It can readily be recognized not only by its familiar size and shape but also its variable brown coloration featuring a green strip along the front edge of the wings.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the oothecas of these fascinating insects during your next visit to Prairie Ridge.
Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time Is It In Nature Archive.