The other evening I was caring for one of our bougainvillea plants and a “twig” moved away from me. Looking more closely, I recognized a praying mantis. Praying mantis’ come in various sizes and colors. I’ve seen them grow up to 10″ in length and come in various shades of brown or green. Upon closer inspection, one suspects that they are looking at the model for a number of sci-fi aliens. What I like about them is that they eat a whole lot of garden pests. The praying mantis is a generalist predator, meaning, it’s not picky. It’ll eat, or try to eat almost anything that moves, within a certain size range. I have heard of them eating small lizards.More often than not, however, they are eating aphids, caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers and flies, etc.
If you ever find an egg case (as pictured above) DON’T bring it inside. When I was in 7th grade I took one to school. It hatched. We had HUNDREDS of little praying mantis’ running all over the class room. It made for a lot of excitement in school, but it was also sad, as there was no way they could survive until spring.
One can order egg cases to hang in the garden. When they hatch, they provide a lot of pest control. They must be ordered in winter or early spring.