Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 73
singing in the garden
ets and grasshoppers she can eat. She holds and eats
them just the way you or I would eat an ear of corn, and
drinks her water from a sponge or spoon. In a week or
two she will attach her egg case to the twig I have provided, and I will release her outside. Then, I will tie her
ootheca to the dogwood tree beside my window and,
one day in the spring, I will be greeted by baby mantids
in search of a buggy lunch.
Butterflies are beauties, mantids are beasts, but both
hold an important place in our gardens and will thrive
if we provide the right habitats. While monarchs can
sip supper from almost any flower, their larvae, those
bright striped caterpillars, eat only milkweed leaves.
This plant is disappearing across America as fields are
replaced by parking lots, so if you have the space, you
should consider planting some milkweed on your
property. It couldn't be easier. Take a child and gather
some of the downy apostrophe-shaped seed pods from
a field. Then carry them home and fling the feathery
contents to the wind.
To attract mantids, consider leaving a bramble of
blackberries untouched, or plant some native roses like
the beautiful Carolina Rose or Pasture Rose. A praying
mantis prefers brambly stems for egg cases.
You can go to the Virginia Department of Game
and Inland Fisheries website, virginia.gov/habitat, for
more information on native plants. There you will find
a printable booklet, called "Habitat at Home" that will
help you create a yard and garden that supports wildlife
and adds interest to your home. The native birds, bees
and bugs will thank you.
Get free brochures or links to all advertiser websites - it's eASy - simply go to
BlueRidgeCountry.com/brochures or fill out the Free information card.
P icture yo urself here
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September/October 2017 73