Poor Will's Almanack: April 29 - May 5, 2014

Apr 29, 2014

Credit HUS0 / Flickr Creative Commons

I had been set to name the upcoming new moon the Tulip Moon, which would have presided over the flowering of mid-season and late tulips throughout my village.

However, on Easter Sunday, my neighbor Moya announced over her south fence that she had found a preying mantis ootheca (egg sack) in her spirea bush, the same place she had found one last year.

We talked about the timing of her discovery, and I realized I had forgotten all about oothecas and should have anticipated her suggestion that the May moon really be called the Preying Mantis Moon.

The fledgling children of the oothecas are about a fourth of an inch long when they crawl out, and they grow quickly through early summer. One year I found two in my garden on June 14; they were an inch long. The ones I came across on Independence Day were two inches long.

In roughly three months, they are mature. On August 14, Barbara reported a full-grown mantis scratching at her back screen door. She said it usually made a sound “kind of like a cricket,” and the same one had been there at least since June. “They come back year after year,” she told me.

Creating their oothecas in the early autumn, mantises die in the winter, so Barbara’s visitor had not really survived to visit her again. An ootheca in her bushes, however, had released its young for many Mays, and at least one of the insects had survived and grown big enough to peer in her back door before the deep cold settled in.

And, all that being said, this May’s moon will be called the Preying Mantis Moon. Of course.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of late spring. In the meantime, look for oothecas.