A Surprise Treasure in our Garden!

While topping the Brussels sprouts* on Wednesday evening, I happened upon an odd, exotic-looking object that was attached to the main stem of one of our plants.  It looked like something that would fit right in on the set of the movie Alien!  However, as I examined it more closely, I realized that it is something that is very good to find in one's garden -- that is, an ootheca, (i.e., egg case), from a mantid!  In our case, (no pun intended!), based on its size and shape, this egg case is from a Chinese mantid (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis). 

 

Ootheca (egg case) from a Chinese mantid, on a Brussels Sprout Plant

[photo - Susan Doctrow]

The Chinese mantid is the world's largest mantid, often reaching over four inches in length when fully grown.  They are brown, with green or yellow stripes on the sides of their wings, and they are widely sold through garden catalogs and garden centers because they are carnivorous predators that will often feed on other insects and creatures that are garden pests.

See our earlier post for a photo of the adult Chinese mantid that we discovered on our pole bean trellis:

http://www.robbinsfarmgarden.org/content/day-garden-september-8-2012

Here's a Chinese mantid creating an egg case: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyrQSfXiGQY&feature=fvsr

And here's a mantid egg case actually hatching: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJoNzO0iNVQ

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*  We learned, this season, that topping Brussels sprouts and flower sprouts when they are 3-4 weeks from harvest leads to bigger, more-consistently sized sprouts at harvest time.