Saturday, February 28, 2009
Evidence of Mantis Egg Parasites
I was checking on the ootheca the other day . . . mantis egg cases, that would be. I know where three of them are/on the crow/under the picnic bench/on the gourd earth, and so I take a look now and then, mostly just to look because the mantis nymphs aren't expected to hatch for several months, in mid-summer. So I was surprised to see these tiny round holes in one of them (the one on the earth); they looked to me just like egg-parasite exit holes on glassy-winged sharpshooter egg masses.
I searched around the internets but couldn't find any information specific to southern CA; but as we know mantis egg parasites do exist here. I did find out about some Australian parasitic wasps which actually hitch a ride under the wing of a newly matured female mantis. The female wasp waits (up to several months) until the mantis has mated and is laying its eggs within the oothecum, then creeps down to the foamy mass and locates a mantis egg with its long ovipositor, dropping an egg there. It repeats the process and then the foamy covering hardens, protecting the parasites as they consume the mantis eggs.
During my search I also ran across The Art of Being a Parasite, by Claude Combes, which sounds like a fun book to read if it shows up at my public library. (3/1: fixed that link/sorry 'bout that)