Subject: California Mantis patrolling my Woody Plant captures marauding Grasshopper
Geographic location of the bug: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Time: 10:37 AM EDT
Last week I sent you pictures of the female California Mantis that is patrolling my Woody Plant. Well, today I am happy to report that she is doing her job. I found her eating this large green grasshopper. I wish I could have seen the actual capture, but I didn’t arrive until after the Grasshopper had its head eaten away. Much earlier in the summer, I removed some small green Grasshoppers that you identified as a Gray Bird Grasshopper, a funny name since it was green.
How you want your letter signed: Constant Gardener
Dear Constant Gardener,
The prey in your image is indeed a Gray Bird Grasshopper nymph, and it is much larger than the individual in your submission from early July of a Gray Bird Grasshopper nymph. The reason these green nymphs are called Gray Bird Grasshoppers is because that is the color of the mature adult. Nymphs feeding on fresh green leaves need to blend in or they will be eaten. Your female California Mantis is beautifully camouflaged among the leaves of your plant, especially when she is downwardly hanging.
Do you have any further advice regarding caring for my guard insect?
Hi again Constant Gardener,
If a mature, mated California Mantis finds a safe plant where the hunting is good, she will remain there. She will eventually produce and attach to woody stems, several oothecae, the egg cases that each contain dozens of eggs that will hatch into mantidlings in the spring. When you harvest, keep a diligent eye peeled for the oothecae. In our own garden, we tie the oothecae we discover while pruning in the fall and winter onto trees and shrubs where we would like to have predators that keep injurious species at bay.