Exciting Bug Ambassador update! Back in May/June, our ghost mantis females began laying oothecae, or egg cases. We’ve had other females lay oothecae in the past, but none of the eggs turned out to be viable, so I was cautiously optimistic about this batch. But last week, I found 9 absolutely minuscule black specks scampering around one of the oothecae containers and therefore am SO excited to announce: we have ghost mantis babies!
Several oothecae were laid by our ghost mantis females over the course of two months. Both had been paired with a male (who has since passed, although, not in the typical male mantis fashion; he was simply old) and began laying at the end of May. Ghost mantids lay long, skinny oothecae with a sort of “tail” at the top, usually on the underside of branches. The ootheca itself is a mixture of proteins and tannins; it is a foamy-like substance as it is produced and then hardens after several hours to days. The eggs are contained within the ootheca matrix, and protected from overexposure, parasites, desiccation, and weather.
The ootheca on the left is the one that began hatching on July 23rd. You can vaguely see a few of the shriveled egg casings; when hatching, the mantids are susceptible to becoming “stuck” in an egg if the humidity is not high enough. Molting insects run the same risk of being trapped inside an old exoskeleton. If the mantis nymph is trapped, it is nearly impossible to extract it, as they are so small and delicate that doing so would result in mangled limbs, or death.
But all 9 emerged safely overnight on July 23rd, and were already active the next morning.
Did I mention they were small?
Like, really small.
One incredible feature of ghost mantids in particular is the variety of color forms they are able to assume. The mantis will grow to match whatever environment it lives in, and with 9 newly hatched youngsters, we’re excited to see how wide their color spectrum truly is!