My Kids Will Probably Never Go Into the Backyard Again

About a month ago, my friend Aimee wrote a post about her praying mantis egg case from which would eventually emerge 75-100 mosquito-eating manti.

Mostly what I heard was “mosquito-eating.”

Being highly suggestible, I succumbed to internet peer pressure and, after a vibrant Facebook discussion about the pros (mosquito-eating) and cons (they look like aliens) of 200 praying manti in your yard, temporary insanity won out and I impulse bought insects for my yard.


Have I mentioned that I am terrified of insects, particularly manti?

Unfortunately, there is no buyer’s remorse clause over at Insect Lore, purveyor of live insects. Sure enough, as night follows day, sunrise follows sunset, and manti follow egg case, a package soon arrived bearing the fruits of my Facebook-fueled bug buying spree.

I had a moment of hope when it looked as if Insect Lore had sent me butterflies instead. Genuine butterflies.

And quality ones at that.

But when I opened the box, there was a mantis egg case in there. The egg case arrived on the day that Jack had come home “sick” because he was carsick and barfed in the school hallway. I decided that transferring the egg case from one container to another counted as science and meant that I was making good use of Jack’s time away from school.

Container one.

Container two.

Well done, Jack. Head on back to your Wii now.

And then the egg case sat there. It sat there for a few days and then it sat there for a few weeks and then I figured that maybe this time I’d managed to kill my pets even before they were born and the manti would never hatch. But then, a few days ago, I was wandering by and did a double take because what had spent three weeks being this:

had suddenly became this:


Part of me badly wanted to take it outside immediately, carry it to the waaay back of my yard, unzip it, and never think about it again, but I decided to wait until all of Team Stimey was assembled.

Until then, I practiced manti photography.

Some of Team Stimey was suitably impressed. Some of them refused to come near the manti, and some of them resented being forced by others of them to do the releasing because the latter someones were more afraid of the manti than the first someones.

Or something.

We spent some time arguing over the best place to release them. We didn’t want to step on them, but we wanted them to eat bugs in an advantageous spot. We also didn’t want them to get mowed or weeded away.

We selected a spot near the back of the yard, next to the garden, and probably too close to the neighbor’s fence. I hope they like manti too.

Then we released our little friends.

We’re coming to eat your faces!

I stopped by the next afternoon to check on them. I found a bunch of them tooling around where we had left them. I decided to recapture four of them to, I don’t know, have the opportunity to catch bugs to feed to other bugs.

Alex was none too happy about that, let me tell you. He was all, “You want me to catch what and put them where?”

We’ve sacrificed a few bugs to the manti, but I think we’re going to release them tomorrow morning because even I recognize how absurd our bug hunting is.

At that point, I will eagerly and skittishly await the next time I meet a mantis, which will probably be when one of the full grown bugs jumps on my face. I’m looking forward to it.

Maybe this guy.

35 thoughts on “My Kids Will Probably Never Go Into the Backyard Again

  1. Um…I can’t believe I’m asking this…tell me more about how they eat mosquitoes? My backyard is a feeding frenzy. We can’t go back there after 3pm because my kids are mosquito magnets.
    And, does your friend know of any bugs that eat ticks too?

  2. I’ve heard somewhere that Praying Manti are very territorial and will kill each other to keep their turf or something. I do hope I am wrong about this, because those little baby Manti are freaking adorable.

  3. We’ve done butterflies and ladybugs over here. The kids absolutely loved them. We even kept the butterflies for about a week and feed them before releasing them. The kids really liked watching the butterflies drink sugar water from orange slices using their probiscis (straw-like tongue-really cool). You should try those out next time.

  4. This is crazy!! Can’t wait to see how it plays out. I live in Oregon and we don’t have a lot of mosquito’s but I have been in places where they can drive you nuts so I hope it works for you.

  5. Yikes! We don’t have Manti over here, but when my nieces were little they had a tank of stick insects, which look a lot like young Manti. They kept them in the kitchen and one day a bunch of them escaped and took up residence on a picture of a leaf on a poster on the door.  Clever and stupid at the same time.

  6. Not only would they have been quality Butterflies, but genuine, too.  Instead of those cheesy CZ butterflies you get from shady insect brokers.  

    I find manti fascinating and repulsive.  But since they are “good” insects, I leave them alone.  

  7. I’m not sure whether to be horrified that you purposely bought creepy insects, or glad you didn’t decide that spiders would be better than manti for mosquito killing.
    Couldn’t you get something less creepy, like a bat? They eat mosquitos too, I hear…..  : )

  8. Um, I can deal with those little guys over a million blood thirsty mosquitoes! I may have to get me some. :)

    Also need to find something (other than chickens) to eat ticks. 

  9. They ARE cute, aren’t they? that is one of the reasons you have to release them right away, so they don’t eat each other. Hopefully they’ll spread out in my yard.

  10.  I’m REALLY afraid of caterpillars. I mean, I really like saying the word…cat-er-piller…but they freak me out.

  11.  In truth, I’m not too hopeful that they will be able to eat all gajillion mosquitoes, but maybe they’ll eat the hungriest ones.

  12. Based on the fact that you still remember a spider you saw on my back patio like 6 years ago, I cannot believe you purposefully bought these bugs and then released hundreds into your yard.  I cannot wait until you start finding full grown ones around the house.  

    Also, I really like that baby bat idea.

  13. I had to laugh at it jumping out onto your face.  I could so picture that happening to me, and so despite the amount that I hate mosquitos, I’d have to put my fear of these creatures way to high to tempt fate.

  14. That is fascinating I am going to have to look into this. I would love to get rid of my mosquitos and as long as they don’t eat my vegetables or flowers… They are kind of freaky alien looking creatures though… 

  15. I’m praying the manti do their job of eating mosquitos and not your face.  You are very brave Stimey very brave.  

  16. Mwahahahaha! So excited to read about Team Stimey’s adventures with Manti!

  17. When growing up, we were told that it is illegal to kill a praying mantis.  They definitely are scarey.  Maybe it’s actually ‘preying’ mantis?  
    Years ago, I had a basement apt. with centipedes.  Simply terrible.  Mantids are cuddly by comparison.  

    Lady bugs are much cuter!

  18. I am super excited that this summer with Team Stimey and Team Banshee join forces we will see many of our manti friends!! 

    I know you can hardly wait!!  

    BTW-  I had to share this post on my blog today.

  19. OMG, I have that same green mesh thing and my kids have stuffed all sorts of insects in it.  I think only 6 have made it out of the green bag of shame alive, but I digress.  

    How on earth are you sleeping at night with all those things wondering about????  I so want to go over to your house and fire up the mower.  Sure it would negate the whole mosquito eating part of the project but I could sleep….

  20. I am completely fascinated by this. Since I have a son with a severe citrus allergy, a lot of bug spray is out for him because it has….duh duh dunnnnn….citronella in it. Yeah. I can’t put that all over his skin when some pasta that had lemon juice as an ingredient made him puke. We may have to try this mantii thing, which would be interesting, and probably hilarious for me since the boys HATE bugs.

  21.  I love that part about it being hilarious for you. I know just how you feel. :) I’ll let you know if it makes a difference for us!

  22. When I was a kid and lived in California I used to find HUGE manti (mantises?) on the side of our house. They never freaked me out back then but now I look at them and wonder why not. They’re all claws and eyes and squishy parts. Those little babies are kind of cute though. I’m weirdly compelled to buy some myself.

  23. Pingback: You Might Not Want to Come to My House For a While | Stimeyland

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