Baby Ninja…Mantids

As some of you may know, Mimi and I love all sorts of creatures found in nature and kept a praying mantis as a pet during our first year in Japan. It was definitely an interesting experience to observe its behavior.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to unlock any martial arts secrets from its attacks. However, after it laid an utheca (egg sack) Mimi and I were in for a surprise. Approximately five months later, at the end of spring, the baby mantids finally started hatching! We thought the utheca was a dud by that time and we weren’t expecting anything to happen.

For anyone that is uneasy with insects, this post probably isn’t for you.
Every one else should check out the unique way in which these creatures come to life below and why we thought they resembled little insectile ninjas.

After we had given up on the utheca hatching, Mimi turned around to discover the first baby mantis repelling down a string from its egg case.

After we had given up on the utheca hatching, Mimi turned around to discover the first baby mantis repelling down a string from its egg case.

The first one was by itself for quite a while and dangled there like a secret agent while it stretched out and gained some strength.

The first one was by itself for quite a while and dangled there like a secret agent while it stretched out and gained some strength.

About an hour after the first hatchling, dozens more mantids started their repelling act. It was getting a bit crowded.

About an hour after the first hatchling, dozens more mantids started their repelling act. It was getting a bit crowded.

After adapting to their new body, each mantis would climb up over the rest of the group and start wandering around.

After adapting to their new body, each mantis would climb up over the rest of the group and start wandering around.

This one was striking a pose for Mimi after gaining some color on its exoskeleton.

This one was striking a pose for Mimi after gaining some color on its exoskeleton.

After the invasion of the bottle by mantids slowed down a bit, I decided to take them outside and let them free. All of them had changed to a darker color by this point.

After the invasion of the bottle by mantids slowed down a bit, I decided to take them outside and let them free. All of them had changed to a darker color by this point.

They were much more timid than expected so I ended up having to transfer them out of the bottle and onto leaves with a chopstick.

They were much more timid than expected so I ended up having to transfer them out of the bottle and onto leaves with a chopstick.

It turned into a fun photo op.

It turned into a fun photo op.

I wonder if any of the fully grown mantids we see around the neighborhood this year are one of these little guys.

I wonder if any of the fully grown mantids we see around the neighborhood this year are one of these little guys.

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