Tad Yankoski is an entomologist at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Butterfly House. His job mainly consists of tending to the site’s cockroaches, beetles, ants, tarantulas, scorpions, millipedes and butterflies. Even when the garden had to shut down to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, Yankoski still had to show up to work and feed the insects — a few days of imbalance and no food could lead the bugs to turn on each other.
But early on during the pandemic shutdown, Yankoski received news that his job just got a bit trickier to manage. How tricky? The U.S. government had intercepted 14 exotic mantis egg cases illegally shipped from Germany, with each case carrying anywhere from a dozen to 150 mantids. They could either be delivered to an accredited site or be euthanized.
Because of Yankoski’s prior connections with some U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials, the egg cases were sent to the Butterfly House, which has a permit to house any type of mantid. Now, many of the mantids have become adults under Yankoski’s supervision — what he calls “a proud papa moment.”
On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Yankoski joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about how he’s managed to take care of 500 mantis babies and what the Missouri Botanical Garden has been up to since it reopened its doors last week to the public.
Listen to the full discussion:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.
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