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A.O. Kime Articles:

AGRICULTURE
Betrayal
Biocontrols
Bio-oddity #1
Bio-oddity #2
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Farm socialism
Kansas Settlement
Kime ordeal
Mission creep
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Melissos
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Plotinus
Polytheism
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Superhumanness
Time (nature of)
Two Septembers
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SOCIOPOLITICAL
19th century
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Economic injustices
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Grand Jury
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Praying mantis - a beneficial insect predator of aphids, caterpillars, flies, mosquitoes, spiders, grasshoppers, moths, crickets and beetles

picture of flying bug

General information on the praying mantis, a beneficial insect predator

Controlling insects biologically is challenging because it requires certain detailed knowledge of the target pest, frequent monitoring of the pest populations (every 2-3 days), and anticipatory strategies. In other words, with agricultural chemicals, it is often an instant cure whereas to rely on biological controls alone one must think ahead. One must recognize and/or anticipate a threatening pest population buildup... although that requires recognizing what a threatening situation IS (or could be). Plants can tolerate some pests and the economic threshold should be a consideration. In other words, the dollar gain should exceed the dollar cost (for controls).

However it is important not to let the population of injurious pests get out of hand. First, once it does, irreversible damage has probably already occurred for which not even pesticides can rectify and, secondly, beneficial insects cannot control a huge population of injurious pests... they would be overwhelmed. The safe bet is to assume certain pests will be there (you must determine which) and have their natural enemies already at work keeping the pests at bay. Yet, timing the release of predators is extremely important and utilizing methods to keep them from straying off... a common problem (especially with ladybugs). Learning how to effectively control insects biologically takes time however, several seasons for sure... and experience is the key to success. While a challenging affair, it is more-so a noble battle, and for the determined (those who persevere)... victory is sweet.

A.O. Kime - former Arizona and California agricultural Pest Control Advisor (1970-1992) and family farmer (1973-1998)

PRAYING MANTIS - ONE OF THE 'BIG FOUR' BENEFICIAL PREDATORS

While there are dozens of beneficial insect predators, most have limited applications, but four predators stand out as having a multitude of applications. So for the time being, we are providing information only on those four. Click any of the links below for information on the other three...

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Praying mantis - this is a 'fair use' image, clicking it will take you to the photograph 

source (another website)

Praying mantis (or Praying mantid)

(tenodera aridifolia sinensis)

< adult

The Praying mantis (or Praying mantid) sits in a ‘praying’ position waiting to catch insects (which happen by) and are extremely fast, able to even catch houseflies. They'll pick spots whereby their tan color resembles the surroundings making them hard to spot. The Praying mantis have a very large appetite and will consume aphids, caterpillars, flies, mosquitoes, spiders and other soft-bodied insects and when fully grown will eat the larger grasshoppers, moths, crickets and beetles. They have even been known to seize hummingbirds.

The Praying mantis does not go through a complete metamorphosis after hatching from an egg, rather the tiny nymphs (resembling miniature wingless adults) go through a series of molting (shedding skin) and steadily increase in size until full grown. They over-winter in the egg stage and hatch in the spring as nymphs. For their first meal, the young nymphs will often eat one of their siblings. It will then take the full summer for nymphs to become full grown adults. In the autumn months, the female adults will lay their eggs on tree twigs, plant stalks and on the underside of leaves (glued in place with a gummy substance) and die shortly thereafter.

There are some 1,800 species of Praying mantis the longest of which are nearly a foot long. Generally however they are only 3-4 inches long. They catch prey with their forelegs and can securely hold them due to their forelegs being serrated (like a serrated knife).

Except for their effectiveness on moths, Praying mantis are generally not considered quite as beneficial as Lady beetles (Ladybugs), Green lacewing or Trichogramma wasps. A major reason is because they are non-selective and will also prey on other beneficial insects. They are especially effective on moths primarily because of a moth's large size and because moths fly mostly at night as does the Praying mantis. To maintain a reasonable amount of pest control, using Praying mantis alone will probably not be enough... although that could depend on the number introduced and the targeted pest species.

Summary:

Lifecycle: The Praying Mantis hatch from eggs as tiny nymphs, then through several molting, grow to adults. Only one generation per season. Females and males can be distinguished by the number of abdominal segments... females have six and males eight.

Positive points:

Negative points:

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I pray for a mantis, for a walking stick near,
soon attacking my garden will be lygus I fear.
I hope he won’t dally, will come fairly quick,
praying for patience, bugs think he's a stick.
A.O. Kime

Credits: Clicking on any thumbnail image above will take you to the photograph source (another website). The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a thumbnail image is ‘fair use’ provided it contains a hyperlink to the webpage where the full-size photograph was obtained, Nonetheless, if any owner of the copyright objects to our usage, upon notification we will immediately withdraw the thumbnail image.

Last modified: 03/13/16