The Day a Clothespin Sprang to Life

Saturday, April 9 was the day a clothespin sprang to life.

Some 200 praying mantis nymphs emerged from an ootheca that Mama Mantis (Stagmomantis limbata) had deposited last summer in our pollinator garden in Vacaville.

We first noticed the camouflaged ootheca (aka eggcase or ooth) on the wooden clothespin in mid-March when we were hanging a freshly laundered dog blanket on the line.

Then on that warm Saturday, with temperatures edging 80 degrees, the clothespin exploded with life. From a distance, the nymphs looked like feathery little ants flicking about.

Mama's babies. 

Looking a lot like Mama, they edged out of the ooth, crawled up and down the clothesline, and then some ascended a metallic quail sculpture, the highest point.

A bird's eye view.

Praying mantis experts say that only a handful will survive to maturity. Yes, they will eat one another, along with other small insects such as fruit flies and aphids. Then they will advance to larger prey.

When Sunday dawned, they were gone.

Mama's babies.