First fire means mantises

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.

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Maywyn Studio  – (January 4, 2016 at 5:08 PM)  

Okay, it feels like a Tim Burton movie in daylight.

Renee  – (January 4, 2016 at 9:50 PM)  

that is just a little bit creepy... but saving the egg sacks is neat. i've never found one inside, only in weird places outside - like my couch cushions. Maybe i'll see if that one can come off too.

outlawgardener  – (January 4, 2016 at 10:56 PM)  

How cool! Glad to hear that it's not bats in you chimney! She looks really nice in your potted plant!

danger garden  – (January 4, 2016 at 11:51 PM)  

Very cool...I'm jealous. I remember seeing them quite frequently growing up in Spokane, but we just don't seem to have many around here.

Alan  – (January 5, 2016 at 9:22 AM)  

Renee: should come off quite easily. If you can find it, the birds will too -- I know that wrens will peck a mantis egg case apart in the winter. I take some indoors as insurance.

Peter: Bats? That would be cool too I think, but I assume would prevent us from having warm fires. :(

Loree: I'm not sure if Oregon has any native mantids. I'd send you an egg case but I'm leery of introducing non-native species (these are Carolina mantises)

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