Tag Archives: praying mantis

The Hatching

29 May

Hi blog.

You may remember some months back I found the ootheca of a praying mantis.

Well, today we got the results!


I was outside this afternoon when I noticed a tiny mantid on the fly screen wire.  I had glanced at the case in which I stored the ootheca this morning, but didn’t see any marked changes at that time.  

I quickly went over to the case and found at least two dozen baby mantids.

“And I shall name this one Robert…”

Time for a quick photo before releasing them – I hoped to disperse them over a wide area to reduce the chances of them cannibalising.

Cute, aren’t they?

Best of luck, my little hatchlings.

Don’t count your mantids…

28 Dec

Hi blog.

Christmas – and its Japanese version which I cynically call “Fakemas” – has come and gone.  I was able to carry out one tradition I insist on following, the making of a Christmas pudding (not a “pure” version, as getting the mixed peel here is virtually impossible) for my workmates.  (I have to make it at work, as some people at home don’t agree with the amount of gas used to boil the pudding for two hours)

Recently I cleared out our chayote vines, and found this.

Folklore holds that the height these are laid at is an indicator of the amount of snow that can be expected that winter. I hope not – this one was at head height!!

In case you don’t recognise this, it is the egg case, or ootheca, of a praying mantis.  Apparently each species of praying mantis produces a different kind of ootheca, and some searching on the Internet suggests that this one – the brown tinge is an important factor – belongs to a Japanese giant mantis (Tenodera aridifolia), known locally as o-kamakiri (大蟷螂 or 大螳螂).  As the name suggests, it is the largest mantis species found in Japan.  It is also extant in China, Taiwan, the Korean peninsula and parts of South East Asia.

Around April, around 200 mantid nymphs will (fingers crossed) emerge.  Most of these nymphs will be eaten before they reach maturity (cannibalism is rife among mantids) and maybe only two or three from each clutch will live to mate (and we all know what happens to the male…)

The foam casing becomes hard to protect the eggs inside.

I’m keeping the eggs in a container outside, partially to keep them at natural temperatures so they don’t hatch prematurely – in a season largely devoid of prey – and partially to avoid the wrath of certain people should 200 or so mantises make a sudden appearance.

Identifying mantis species is an art into itself, and I hope to remember some of the methods by next summer when the mantises are out and about.  That will be a worthy of a blog post.

Ladybird, Ladybird

21 Jul

The hunt begins…


No, I am simply looking for something to feed our frog.  Small grasshoppers or crickets are the best food.  Small worms are also excellent, but difficult to find.  Slaters (woodlice, sow bugs, or whatever they are called in your part of the world) are acceptable, although not the ones with a tough carapace and that roll up into a ball.

Damned fussy eaters, frogs.


On the leaves of our cucumber plants I notice several insect larvae.  They look like lady beetle larvae, but are a green-yellow instead of the usual black.  I also notice a small yellow insect with a typical lady beetle outline.


It looks like a lady beetle larva (above) and an adult lady beetle (below)

Identify this!

I’m not going to try giving beneficial insects to the frog, and lady beetles secrete toxic fluids, so I ask the good wife to do a quick internet check to see if there is some kind of yellow lady beetle.  Yes, there are yellow lady beetles.  Yes, they are beneficial.

Close-up of the larva.

I decide this little insect is going to be worth checking into…


Note: The English language has a plethora of old and regional names, including “ladybird”, “ladybug”, “lady cow”, “may bug”, “golden bug” and “barnabee”.  However, these insects are beetles, and entomologists use the terms “lady beetle” or “ladybird beetle”.  I prefer to use the term “lady beetle”, using other terms only as popular common names.


 So! Bein’ a ladybug automatically makes me a girl. Is that it, fly boy? Eh?

Francis, A Bug’s Life


The Japanese generic name for lady beetle is tentomushi (天道虫), tento being a reference to the sun – it’s worth noting that in the Japanese collective consciousness the sun is red.  The name is also sometimes rendered as 紅娘 or 瓢虫.

Specific beetles then go by the name tento.  For example, the seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) is known as nanahoshi tento (七星天道).


The beetle in question is the yellow ladybird beetle (Illeis koebelei).  Its name in Japanese is kiirotento (黄色天道), which corresponds perfectly with the English.  I’ve also seen it referred to as the yellow spotless ladybird.

It’s so clean and spotless…

A small beetle (3.5 – 5 mm in length), it is best known for feeding upon powdery mildew, making this a truly beneficial insect.  It has no spots on its abdomen, but has a pair of black spots on its thorax and large eyes, which look like spots to the naked eye.

Caught in the act! Here you can see the spots and the large dark eyes.


Lady beetles apparently have a short lifespan – just two months, although some individuals have been recorded as living for nearly a year, and beetles born in autumn somehow manage to hibernate and survive into the next spring.  I’m going to see if I can’t find some eggs.

A short life that has its ups…

… and downs.


Special bonus!

Although I have not been able to identify the species, I’ll let you enjoy the photos of the baby praying mantis that has made a home on the cucumber plants.


The praying mantis is one of the few insects that can turn their heads.


7 Aug

Like a scene from Alien vs. Predator… only for real.

An orb-weaver spider has set up home in the mandarin tree in our tiny garden.  Praying mantises also take advantage of the greenery and the insects it attracts.

What happens when two ambush hunters meet?






(In this case, nothing.  The mantis didn’t walk into the spider’s web, and the spider didn’t get within striking range of the mantis.)

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