One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there readers! How about identifying this little blob we found when we’d checked out the Christmas Ferns again.

mystery #39

Guesses will be checked and the answer given toward evening.

~~~

This dry mass that looks like pumice on a stick is a Praying Mantis eggcase, better known in the insect world as an ootheca. You may remember we talked about a praying mantis we’d found back on the  August 31st  post. But we had misidentified the creature, we told you on September 5th.

We didn’t want to make that mistake again, so did a little research.

The cases are not too difficult to tell apart if you have seen properly identified pictures of each. A resource we found is the Missouri Botanical Garden website, specifically their section on Beneficial Insects. You will need to scroll down to almost the end—though the rest of what Miz Flora calls good bugs are interesting, too—until you see the photos labeled Carolina Mantis. They look like a trilobite. Then below are the Chinese Praying Mantis oothecas—and bingo! That round shape with the one flat side is what we’ve shown for today’s mystery.

So we expect 100 to 400 little Chinese mantids to emerge in the spring to help with our bad bug problems. What I don’t understand is how they tell the bad form the good bugs.

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