Tag Archives: insect control

Garden Resident Northern Fence Lizard

My garden is an insect magnet. Last year a resident Northern Fence Lizard moved in to help reduce these insect populations.

This lizard hung out around the raised bed often basking on the rock walls in the late afternoon. She got used to me going back and forth and found me interesting to watch.

I do know my resident Northern Fence Lizard is a female as she was visited by a male wearing his bright blue sides and bobbing his head toward her. She grew fat with eggs after that.

resident northern fence lizard
My garden resident Northern Fence Lizard is sitting on a corner stone of the raised bed watching me carry water buckets from the rain barrels to thirsty plants. Her new tail is short with small, packed brown scales. A male must have visited as her belly is starting to swell with eggs.

As the weather warmed up this year, my resident Northern Fence Lizard appeared on the raised bed walls. She still remembers me and watches me as I go back and forth.

Last year something happened to this lizard’s tail. One day she had a tail. The next day she didn’t. Luckily for us both, she was fine and continued to consume both good and bad insects.

This is one way to recognize this particular lizard. The missing tail has regrown, sort of. The replacement is short and curved.

I don’t know if she eats my number one enemy: squash bugs. She does visit the summer squash bed nearby. I seems doubtful as bugs wiped out three of four plants in two nights.

Northern Fence Lizard head
There are plenty of lizard sized gaps between the stones of the raised bed. When the sun gets too hot for basking on top, my resident lizard slips between the stones. She keeps a head out to check on passing meals or threats.

Other undesired insects are the cucumber beetles and biting flies, deer, horse and stable. These may be more likely. The frogs work on the mosquitoes.

According to “The Amphibians and Toads of Missouri” by Tom R. Johnson of the Missouri Department of Missouri this may be the last year I see my resident Northern Fence Lizard. These lizards only live about three years. She is growing fat with eggs again and could lay two clutches this year.

Perhaps next year I will have one of her baby lizards as my new resident Northern fence Lizard.

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Watching Praying Mantises

Watching praying mantises is boring after the first few minutes. They sit still or gently sway hanging on a twig or leaf for hours waiting.

If an insect happens by, instant action too fast to see occurs. The mantis has a meal. After dining and cleaning up, the mantis resumes waiting.

watching praying mantises lets them watch you

Praying mantises are carnivorous insects. Their heads are triangles with large eyes on two points and a mouth on the low point. They have good eyesight watching you watching them.

There are times watching praying mantises is interesting. One time is when the big female lays her eggs in the fall.

The most obvious mantises around the place are Chinese mantises imported by gardeners for insect control. The females get six or seven inches long.

All mantises die in the fall. The next generation is encased in what looks like a piece of tan foam attached to a branch or stalk. The favored ones here are the bamboo and the sumac. Blackberry canes will do.

A female praying mantis shoots out her eggs encased in foam layer by layer. She moves slowly down the stalk for each succeeding layer.

The female faces the ground and starts shooting out liquid that bubbles up and hardens into foam. Eggs are hidden in the foam.

Spring brings the next interesting time for watching praying mantises. The eggs hatch once spring warms up.

The half inch long miniature mantises emerge one by one moving quickly away from the case. Each has a bit of yolk left from the egg. It doesn’t last long and baby mantises are not picky eaters, even eating siblings.

watching praying mantises hatch

Dozens of baby praying mantises crawl out of the egg case once spring warms up. They quickly scatter.

As the baby mantises grow, they molt. Each time they get bigger. On their final molt they emerge with wings.

People make a big deal out of female mantises eating their mates. It isn’t really. The male mantis who survives mating will die within a week. If eaten, his protein helps make his eggs more numerous and able to produce stronger babies in the spring.

watching praying mantises is boring

Within a month a praying mantis doubles or triples in size. This one is hiding on a potted fig tree waiting for dinner to happen by.

Smaller mantises are the same green as the plants they sit on. Spotting them is a lucky chance.

I enjoy seeing them, glad they are busy munching on bugs I would rather not have around. Watching praying mantises is still boring over the summer.