The Circle of Life

For the first time on TGAS, my photo subject is more than just a specimen that I briefly encountered. This time I am writing about a pet, and probably more accurately, a friend.

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Nacho, a Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

Yesterday, our pet Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina), who we lovingly named Nacho (because my girlfriend was craving nachos when we took her home) passed away. Nacho was a gift from a friend who thought of me when she landed on his fishing pole while he was night fishing. She was an adult when we received her, about six weeks ago. She was clearly a female because of her wide and swollen abdomen. Shortly after she was caught, she oviposited an ootheca (egg case) on some foliage she was being kept with. The case is produced by a liquid secretion from the mother’s abdominal glands, which creates a foam and hardens after it has been exposed to air. To our surprise, she oviposited a second one a few weeks later.

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Nacho will be sorely missed

We enjoyed watching Nacho, who spent most of her time hanging from the top of her critter keeper. We fed her crickets, which she caught with amazing speed and consumed voraciously. It is not uncommon for many insects to stop feeding after reproduction, but Nacho kept her appetite until the last of her days. Almost all S. carolina populations have one annual cycle, with no adults surviving the winter.

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Nacho’s first ootheca

Sources that I have found suggest that this species’ eggs overwinter and hatch in the early spring. I very dearly hope I will be present during the emergence of nymphs from at least one of the two oothecas. Stay posted in early 2016 (hopefully) for the continuation of Nacho’s legacy.

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