Rita LeRoy, the self-described "Farm Keeper" at the Loma Vista Farm, Vallejo, takes amazing photos.
We recently wrote about the farm, part of the Vallejo City Unified School District, when we visited it during the annual spring festival.
LeRoy, who has worked for the Vallejo school district for 25 years, teaches students about nature and nutrition through hands-on farm lessons involving cooking, gardening, insect appreciation, and animal care. Founded in 1974, the Loma Vista Farm is described on its website as a 5-acre outdoor classroom that provides hands-on educational activities involving plants and animals for children of all ages and abilities,
But back to Rita LeRoy. She is an avid entomological enthusiast, an insect photographer, and a member of the Pollinator Posse.
She recently posted a photo on Facebook of several praying mantids emerging from their ootheca, a sight folks rarely see. She ca[tired this image in the Loma Vista Farm greenhouse. Indeed, we rarely see the camouflaged adults unless they're moving around in the vegetation or snaring prey.
With her permission, we thought we'd share her amazing photo--from a distance and then a portion of it enlarged.
We have four oothecas in our family bee garden but never once have we seen any action. They are silent as stones.
However, we know the praying mantids are out there. We see them in our yard periodically. These are the survivors, the ones who made it past the sibling-eat-sibling stage and the mating ritual of female-eat-male, also known as "off with the head." They're cannibals, you know. Now they're dining on...alas, our pollinators--the honey bees, sunflower bees, sweat bees, bumble bees and butterflies. (We'd prefer it if they changed their menu to pests instead of pollinators.)
The ever-so-patient mantids lie in wait and snag their prey with their spiked forelegs.
Yes, we know they're out there. This one (below) was hidden in the lavender patch.
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Author - Communications specialist
Praying mantids emerging from an ootheca. (Photo by Rita LeRoy)
Close-up of praying mantids emerging from an ootheca. (Photo by Rita LeRoy)
Find the praying mantis! It's deep among the lavender stems. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of the praying mantis in the lavender patch. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)