Mantis sightings aren’t necessarily common in Missoula, but certainly not unheard of. On this particular afternoon during our bug walk with Montana Natural History Center’s Master Naturalist students, we spotted four adult European mantises, three of which were gravid females (one is pictured here).
European mantis oothecae (egg cases) can be purchased at any garden supply store, and their non-native status is often overlooked in favor of their unmatched ability to prey on common garden pests. Yet as they grow, they start taking down larger prey items, including important native pollinators.
Four mantis sightings in a single afternoon (without even trying to find them) is exciting, but as we continue to experience mild winters, there’s a chance this introduced species is successfully reproducing in the wild without the help of local gardeners. The evidence for this is anecdotal at best, but it’s hard not to listen to that little twinge of concern in the back of our brain.
Photo by Glenn Marangelo on 9/20/20 in Missoula, MT