Mantis babies, that is.
Every day, as I go in and out of the house, I take a look at the praying mantis egg casing that Michelle generously donated to my garden cause. I elevated the casing by attaching it to a highly technical tool (read: stick) and propped it up in this state-of-the-art incubator, shown at right (read: a plastic drinking cup amid zuke and cuke seedlings beneath a grow lamp).
Last year, the mantis egg casing Michelle had supplied me with didn't hatch at all. This year, we had storms coming in, so I was waiting until the storms had passed to put the egg casing out.
I waited too long.
As I was headed out the door to work, I performed my glance-to-the-left-to-verify-that-mantises-haven't-hatched-yet move...and did a double take. Mantises were afoot in my enclosed porch, roaming around in the incubator! (If you look closely at the picture, you'll see the egg shell remains sort of hanging out of the side of the casing.)
Wow, I thought, maybe they are just starting to hatch and I caught them in time to put them out in the garden.
At left are just a FEW of the 100+ mantises that hatched, crawling around my cucumber seedlings (which are long overdue for garden planting). Mantises are currently walking my walls, ceiling, and windows, entering the house through cracks. They seem quite happy swaying their buggy-eyed little heads back and forth, watching me as I try to capture a decent shot of them on David's camera (which he loaned to me since my camera shot craps). Of course, I haven't quite figured the camera out, so parts of the picture are blurry and I can't get the macro and super-macro function to work right, so this is the best shot of the colony I could get.
Unfortunately, we don't have many bugs on our porch, so I have to capture all these guys and set them free in the garden so they don't die prematurely. Using my very expensive, state-of-the-art mantis capturing device (read: a torn piece off a Target prescription bag and plastic drinking cup), I scooped mantises up, gently knocking them from the leaves, and deposited them among the bean, pea, and tomato plants in my garden.
So, now you have the story of the babies. I am no longer just a mantis midwife; I am a MANTIS MOMMA!
Aren't my babies cute?