As soon as my daughter and I discovered the papery mantid cocoons in the late winter,
for lack of the correct scientific word, we anticipated the arrival of a host of babies come
spring. Just past Memorial Day, they burst forth as I had calculated (the weather had
stayed warm for more than 2 consecutive days.)

Fortunately, for the small price of a killer vodka martini and dinner (which included the
first garden pesto of the season) my boyfriend Rob was kind enough to spend a few hours
trying to install the wireless router. Internet access in the garden! The unlimited
possibilities! Up to the minute garden and landscape information is now available while
out in the garden with dirty fingernails and scruffy clothes–can there be any better way
to meld the techno and garden diversities by the wireless environment?

(Above mentioned BF took the opportunity to type in the last few lines, the cook/
gardener being occupied with above mentioned martini and pesto fabrication…..credit
must be given appropriately. And credit given, too, for the help with the computer.)
This prompts now two fronts: one, the mantids, who were the original topic of the essay;
two, the connection between technology and gardening. Since, thanks to Rob, I now
have wireless access to the worldwide web, the correct, scientific name for a mantis
cocoon is “ootheca.” There were several of these nests in our garden waiting quietly all
winter. The largest and easiest to study was on the crape myrtle tree near the patio. We
had one on a stalk of lemon balm, one on the Deutzia, another on the blue spruce near the
garage. Those on the Deutzia and the lemon balm stalk didn’t make it. The other two
did, but we only saw the emerging nymphs from the ootheca near the patio. Such tiny
slips they were as they crawled forth! They didn’t seem much wider than a strand of hair
and were the palest green color.
Only three weeks later, while weeding I happened to see one of the toddlers, it having
gained considerable girth and, having read-up on the topic I’ve learned they molt many,
many times from nymph stage to adult. Now, he is about an inch long and about as wide
as a toothpick. I was amazed to watch him catch a small fly and eat it, going first for the
neck. I would’ve never seen this, had I not learned long ago I can make up for a lot less
smarts by paying attention.

With the rest of the season ahead, and since yesterday
marked the first day of summer, I can settle in to dead-heading, weeding, watching the
mantids grow and of course—have easy access to any of my questions through
worldwide connections, keeping things in perspective, that there is plenty of world
enough in my quarter acre patch of green should my curiosity travel no further than here.

The Garden Story is Our Story
Gardening & Yoga