The story begins in late March. I was watering my trees when a rather wet praying mantis appeared seemingly from nowhere, jumping from one of my trees onto the metal stand below in an attempt to escape the water streaming out of my hosepipe.
In years gone by I'd have tried to relocate the little creature to a part of the garden where there are no bonsai, but I recently discovered that the praying mantis is a carnivore which preys on the pests that harm our trees. Under the circumstances I wanted her to stay so I did my best not to disturb her any further. Of course I also wanted to see if I could get a decent photo and she kindly posed for me, even walking towards the camera at one stage, enabling me to shoot from a better angle. Even the light from my camera's flash didn't seem to bother her.
I saw her three more times over the next few days, then she seemed to disappear and I thought I'd seen the last of her. Then about a week ago she was back in one of the trees close to where I'd first seen her. She seemed to have grown a lot fatter, a fact which first made me suspect that she was a female. An online search for photos of praying mantises convinced me that I was right.
For several days after that I saw her hanging in the same tree, then one day I couldn't see her anywhere. Next day, however, I found her on a different tree with that patch of white "stuff" behind her.
|May 2017 - laying her eggs|
Although I'd never seen pictures of an ootheca (egg sac) before I was confident that I was witnessing my little friend laying eggs.
I immediately went to fetch my camera. After gently moving the tree onto a nearly table I was lucky enough to get some decent photos and even some video footage.
Once she was done laying her eggs she slowly climbed out of the tree onto the table. She seemed weak and I felt she was rather vulnerable there but luckily I was able to coax her into another tree and return her to the area she'd made her home.
The bad news is, I've read that once she's laid her eggs, Mama Mantis hasn't got long to live. I'm really going to miss her.