I asked that question about 40 years ago of a retired County Agent. “I dunno”, he said. Then he commenced to cut it up into tiny pieces with his secateurs.
This is a pair of Praying Mantis egg cases. You might find them hidden in your shrubs, small tree branches or vines. Some folks find them in their Christmas trees. They don’t present a danger to yourself or your family. They are dangerous to other insects, and that can be a good thing.
The name, Praying Mantis, is derived from their prayer-like posture. While they are considered beneficial insects by humans because they hunt and eat insect pests, they are an unholy terror to little creatures. Not only will they eat other insects, they will even eat small lizards, tiny birds and other beasts small enough to be grasped in their strong forelegs.
Here are some more interesting facts about Praying Mantis:
are solitary, stealthy, lightening fast hunters. When waiting for prey,
they either remain motionless or slowly stalk until the target is within reach. Then, like a
flash, they seize it with their strong forelegs and eat it alive!
They can rotate their heads 180 degrees.
They are cannibalistic. Females will eat males during or after intercourse. Not surprising, then, that the females live longer than males. As you can see below, females are larger than males.
|Poor unsuspecting fella.|
Photo Credit: I, Zwentibold, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
They have one ear on their stomachs, and they can hear ultrasound.
They assume a threatening pose before approaching danger by rearing up on their hind legs, spreading their wings and displaying their forelegs.
They are distantly related to roaches.
They are not native to the United States, but were introduced in the Northeast over a century ago for agricultural pest control.
Some Chinese martial arts strategies are based upon praying mantis hunting techniques.
Some folks keep Praying Mantis as pets.
What should you do if you find egg cases? That depends. If you find them outdoors, leave them alone. Know that the the hatchlings will come to your aid when the weather warms and reduce the excess pest population. If you find them on plants brought indoors – like your Christmas tree – snip off the branch where they are deposited and place them outdoors somewhere out of the way. If left to hatch indoors, you might find dozens of little hunters around the house. It’s okay to pick them up. They won’t hurt YOU.
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