My Favorite Garden Bug


Meet Cecil

Are you old enough to remember the Beanie and Cecil cartoon? They were cartoon puppets. Cecil was a friendly Sea Serpent. He regularly rescued Beanie Boy from the villain Dishonest John.

Back to my pet Praying Mantis. Every year in March- I buy a couple of cocoons full of eggs at the nursery.  I put them in a jar-fitted with a sprouting lid- on the counter. When the babies hatch, they eat through the cocoon and are all over the inside of the jar. I wait until night fall to spread the babies throughout the garden. This gives them a chance to orient themselves, find some food and learn to hide before the birds come out to hunt in the morning.

One reason that they are my favorite is because they have a big appetite. They are very strong and will eat any bug (good or bad) that they can hold on to. Another reason is that even though they get pretty big, they seem pretty gentle and unafraid. It is common for them to crawl up our legs or allow us to pick them up. When I pick one up and talk to it,  it will look at me and cock its head like it is listening to me. I like that in a bug, a pet or a husband. Steve says that it is looking at me like I am coo-coo. How do he know?

My Arizona friends keep telling me that these little beasties won’t last because the birds will eat them. The ants will kill them too. But my patience has been rewarded. Now it seems that there is not a day that I do not see at least one. They are all different sizes from 1/2 inch to 4 inches. So either they have started to call this place home and set up their nurseries, or someone else is setting them loose and they are coming into my backyard.  Either way, I win!


About sharinglifesabundance

I am a backyard food producer. I grow 800 square feet of organic vegetables in the desert year round.
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11 Responses to My Favorite Garden Bug

  1. CastIronDan says:

    I remember Beanie and Cecil! I have a few of the in my garden too.

  2. What a great idea (and it would be fun for the kids). Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wyzyrd says:

    My favorite bug too 🙂 (and I’m a former entomologist)
    @sharinglifesabundance: if the kids are bug-phobic, consider a cheap megamart aquarium tank and a screen top for it. toss in some sand (or dry dirt), a water source, some leaf litter and one of your (bigger) mantis babies. turn on an outside light at night and net some moths and other night-insects, let ’em go in the tank with the mantis. The kids will watch it like a vintage Kung-Fu movie, and quickly “make friends”. If you can catch “unfriendly” insects like roaches, etc. the mantis quickly becomes ” the hero who is on our side”. The “Cecil” mantis will survive well into the autumn if you can keep him/her fed and warm . Worked w/my kids, anyway 🙂 . (Never could teach one to yell “I’m coming, Beanie-boy!!” )

    As an aside, if you live well-south of the Mason-Dixon line, you can make a decent bit of income collecting mantis egg-cases in the Spring and selling them to the bio-control suppliers.

    • Wyzyrd-Thank you for that great bit of information. Kids nothin- I have several cheap megamart aquariums with screen tops. I have raised baby chicks, meal worms and even have some indoor greenhouses to raise transplants with. Thanks to you, I will be raising a “Cecil” of my very own to share with friends and family. “Help Cecil, help!”

      • Wyzyrd says:

        Most welcome – I forgot to mention, if you add a branch or 2 from the local brush-pile, you give Cecil a distinct tactical advantage for getting dinner 🙂

    • Wyzyrd says:

      LOL – it is, and also a great introduction to how ecosystems work, for young and old, alike. Cecil is the apex predator. Don’t put a brother or sister mantis into the terrarium. “big food” is #1 target acquisition priority. There will only be 1 left in the morning. The prey critters like moths will tend toward the lights at the top. Branches let Cecil get close enough to eat without “noisy” flight. He can’t grab ’em a foot away.

      In addition to nature-study, a way to start learning/teaching that if you aren’t paying attention to where you are and what you’re doing, you might end up on the menu 🙂

  4. Keep going Mr Wyzyrd. I am loving this education.

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