Tag Archives: insect photography

Praying Mantis eggs: Really?

One good thing about the recent deep freeze in Las Vegas is that the cold temperatures slowed the development of buds on my backyard apricot tree and gave me time for much-needed pruning.  The day after the cold snap broke its grip, I got busy with my loppers and shears.  Pruning helps me get reacquainted with the tree.  I not only assess its overall condition and shape but also study each branch’s health and sturdiness.  This year, my intimate examinations were rewarded with this unusual discovery.

Why would praying mantises in Las Vegas make egg cases so different in appearance from egg cases made by mantises elsewhere?

Unfortunately, this egg case was deposited on a branch that required pruning from the tree: sticking straight up from its parent branch, it had crossed and was rubbing against another, better placed branch. I was about to add the severed branch to the waste pile when I reconsidered discarding the egg case. I wasn’t thinking “praying mantis,” but I didn’t want to destroy the next generation of some other beneficial insect.  After all, the point of buying beneficial bugs and setting them free in the yard is so that their population will become self-sustaining.  I needed to discover more information about this strange, yellowish attachment.

Fortunately, I found the Xtremehorticulture of the Desert blog and its feature article, “Praying Mantis Eggcase Confuses Reader.”  No, not me: count me happy, though, that I am not alone in failing to recognize local mantis eggcases.  The “Reader’s” photo (posted at the blog) and comment about finding the eggcase on a different variety of apricot tree reassured me about my own mantis find.

As a result, the offending branch has been woven back into the apricot tree’s canopy.  Hopefully, the mantid nymphs will hatch on schedule and find my yard a happy home.  I’m happy that gardening provides so many opportunities to learn something new about the world around us.

Come Dine with Me?

Working on my primary New Year’s resolution—(re)organize my photo archives—I (re)discovered this image of a Mexican primrose and the goldenrod crab spider using one of its petals as a dining table.

Goldenrod Crab Spider / Misumena vatia – Images by Jennifer Nelson
Taking this photo, I was experimenting with using the low-voltage landscape lighting in my front yard to backlight the flower for a stained-glass effect. Finding the spider and the fly about to re-enact the drama of Mary Howitt’s classic poem was only a happy coincidence. Finding this photo again gives me an idea for another resolution: spend more time with the camera in my garden at night. What new fascinating wildlife encounters might I discover?