Ootheca! Ootheca! Ootheca!

If you've been pruning bushes or trees, check to see if a praying mantis egg case (ootheca) is attached to a limb.

If you do, you're in luck! 

A mantis deposits her egg case in late summer or fall, and usually on twigs, stems, a wooden stake or fence slat, but sometimes even on a clothespin.  

The nymphs emerge in early spring. 

The hard egg capsule protects the future offspring from "microorganismsparasitoidspredators, and weather," Wikipedia tells us. The ootheca "maintains a stable water balance through variation in its surface, as it is porous in dry climates to protect against desiccation, and smooth in wet climates to protect against oversaturation. Its composition and appearance vary depending on species and environment."

Meanwhile we've been watching a neighbor's gift: an ootheca attached to redbud twig. With any luck, we expect the nymphs to emerge around April 9, weather permitting.

Back in 2022--April 9th to be exact--we were delighted to see some 150 nymphs emerge from the clothespin just a'hanging on the line. Of course, the sisters and brothers ate one another. Only a handful survived.

It's survival of the fittest. Or the fleetist. Or maybe just luck?