The first fireplace fire we have each year has come to mean something different to me than to most people who light the logs at this time of year.
It means an unexpected -- well, at least for the first couple of years -- chance to connect with the garden again, or at least its wildlife.
That's because I've discovered that female mantises are attracted to my chimney each autumn, making the trip down the flue into the wood stove itself...
...where they lay at least one more egg case, then perish.
I find them desiccated, dusty, and somewhat discolored a month or two later. It's probably later this year than normal, since New Year's Eve is very late for the first fire of the season.
Although the egg cases look to be quite solidly glued to whatever surface mom chose...
...they come free with just a little bit of pressure. They won't fall off, but they don't require tools to remove.
|Smile and wave for the camera!|
|Mom checking on kids...|
I'll leave the egg cases in a jar in the refrigerator over the winter...
|I'm up to three now, and know where|
one more egg case is in the garden!
...and leave her in the small 'Gollum' jade on the kitchen window.
Finding a mantis day after day in the same plant out in the garden is one of the joys of gardening for me. This is a poor substitute, but will have to do until June when the babies hatch.