Based on the number of sightings reported in the past two weeks, mantis mania seems to have hit western Montana. These mantids are not native to MT but have been spotted by many excited observers over the past few weeks. Each year gardeners purchase European mantis egg cases (called oothecas) with the idea that the emerging mantis nymphs will eat other insects that are bad for their flowers or vegetables. It’s debatable whether they have a beneficial impact since the growing mantids inevitably eat insects that pollinate our plants too. In addition to the annual introduction of mantids by some gardeners, in late summer / early fall the females will lay two to three oothecas …and if we have a mild winter, we may be getting mantids through natural reproduction. Thank you to Kaylajo Downing from Stevensville, MT for sharing a photo of this charismatic predator as well!
Photos by Kristi DuBois on 8/16/20 in Missoula, MT.