One of the truths of gardening is that you never know when your garden will share something brand new with you. It’s almost always a surprise. Hopefully a delightful surprise.

Like this:

praying mantids hatching in the garden

Every winter, I collect praying mantis egg cases from my folks’ property and scatter them around my garden. Then, every spring, I celebrate each time I discover a baby mantis amongst the vegetables and flowers. But, for all these years of fostering praying mantises, I’ve never once witnessed the hatching of an egg case. That changed yesterday.

praying mantises hatching in the garden

baby mantis

It’s a bit like watching an alien hatch. In fact, it’s a lot like that. Don’t believe me? Check out this video:

[vimeo 66908288 width=600]

A little bit creepy, right? But, also, very very cool.

If you’re unfamiliar with praying mantises, you should know that they are wonderful bugs to have around in the garden. The little ones will gorge themselves on aphids, flea beetles and other tiny pests, while larger mantises eat cabbage moths, beetles and, sometimes, one another. Hungry praying mantises don’t discriminate. They eat garden pests and beneficial bugs with equal abandon. So, yes, you are making things a bit more challenging for your lady bugs. But you’re also introducing another predator, which is generally a good thing. And, of course, your resident bug-eating birds will thank you for welcoming more big, tasty insects.

You know what they say: If you want to grow an ecosystem, you have to sacrifice a few bugs.

How do you encourage praying mantises and other hungry, pest-eating predators in your garden? Click here to share your tips in the comments section.

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