Today our gravid mother Mantis religiosa finally deposited an ootheca — a mass of eggs in a kind of protein cement to protect them — inside the cage where she mated with and ate several husbands. Mantids are closely related to cockroaches and termites (believe it or not, termites are basically social cockroaches that aren’t closely related to ants) and they, like cockroaches, encase their eggs in a protective sticky mass that hardens into an ootheca. Cockroaches sometimes carry their oothecae around attached like little suitcases to the tips of their abdomens, but mantids usually lay theirs on grass or other plants, or, in the case of M. religiosa, under rocks or logs. Different species of mantis produce different types of ootheca.


Our mother mantis chose a crevice at the roof of our net cage.


The ootheca is sticky when created, but it hardens into protective armor for the eggs. The young mantis nymphs will be born in spring.


Close up detail of the ootheca.

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