Rina works in the forests in Chicago. It's the perfect job for her, because she's always had a biologist-naturalist heart. (One year, she nursed, over many months, an abandoned, injured, baby bird back to health, and then convinced an entire contingent of my relatives to accompany her to the zoo for a Freedom Ceremony to release it into their protected-from-the world aviary. Except it turns out that it wasn't protected from the gorilla. So when the bird panicked, and hit a post in its first seconds of freedom, it fell, and while plummeting, was plucked out of the air by a gorilla, who promptly ate it. A 30-second story, start to finish.)
Last November, Rina came upon praying mantis casings. I guess these are like praying mantis eggs. They usually spend the winter outside, and hatch around the end of June.
Rina wanted to see what baby praying mantises and the hatching process would look like, so she brought the casings indoors and decided to duplicate their natural conditions--except indoors.
She put them in a refrigerator, and every day before work she went outside and checked the weather. If it was cold, she reduced the temperature. If it was raining, she sprayed them with water. If the day had 6 hours of sunshine, they got 6 hours of light. Eventually, she moved them to a window box planter. And she photographed the process with her new Nikon D40.
By the end of May, when nothing happened, she was ready to toss them. But by mid-June, while she watched, and shot away with her camera, they hatched! Some 30 little itty bitty perfectly formed praying mantises!
She said that if they didn't scatter, the mother would eat them. . . so they did! But one continued to stick around for a few days, visiting Rina.
Rina showed her photographs to the forest rangers, and now they've incorporated the photos and her descriptions of the process, into a brochure for distribution to the school district. How cool is that?! Unfortunately, my sister is not a high-tech person, doesn't have a computer, so can't email copies of the photos. But once I get to see them, or the brochures, I'll be sure to include a shot of them.