not a wasp nestI can’t remember who pointed this out to me, but it made me laugh. I present:  The photo of a “wasp nest” that is actually a mantis ootheca.

Ootheca is a fancy way of saying “egg case.” Both roaches and mantids create egg cases, which is one of the reasons they are sometimes grouped together.

Check out this fascinating video of a mantis creating an egg case.  (Interestingly, mantid egg cases are used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat urinary system problems. I have no idea how that connection came about.)

A mantis ootheca is not in any way like a wasp nest. The maximum size is about 1 inch in length (2.5cm).  Yellowjacket and hornet nests can get very big–this one was about 6ft by 5 foot.

That’s hardly average–the nests I tend to get on my house seem to be about a foot or so before I clue in they are there–but big enough that using this photo deserves a bit of mockery.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Maybe there should be a special class for a taxon fail from an arthropod artefact (or would it be artifact, I can never keep them straight)? Actually, I suppose whichever is correct, artefact would normally refer to some human creation, but it would be too jargony to invent another term for something created by an insect.

  2. You might think this is a FAIL, but that’s only because you’ve never experienced swarms of Killer Stinging Mantids.

    If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding in my basement.

  3. I’d say that having the wrong picture is the harmless part of the ehow page (the original is at The real problem is in making a wasp trap at all – distributing a few open dishes with juice-scented water is usually enough to keep thirsty wasps away from places where one doesn’t want them (e.g. the dinner table).

  4. It could look like a wasp nest (if you kind of squeeze your eyelids r e a l l y tight ’til they’re almost totally shut). But apparently these articles are not intended for someone making any serious attempt at identification, now are they?
    Just a note re your comment on the “Orkin Man” last June… In order to remove the sting from any tag containing “man” I prefer to look at it as an abbreviation of “human” and thus refers to a person of any gender (otherwise this subject could drive you absolutely buggy). Besides, what woman in her right mind would want to spray toxins around anyway?? ; ) D.

  5. Deb–no, I think if they really mean human, they should use another word besides MAN.

    If they said Woman, would we think it was an abbreviation for human? It would change the meaning–which means it isn’t a neutral word.

  6. arcane-software-guy April 19, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Personally I’d rather leave the little buggers alone and let them eat other insects. Unfortunately, predation is not well respected: sharks, rattlesnakes and coyotes all seem to evoke an irrational fear as well…

    I think the larger problem may be the author was confused about some very basic stuff: such as a house is not a trap. I followed the link expecting to find wasp version of a bee house. Silly me. (-:

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