The Life Cycle And Benefits Of The Predatory Praying Mantis: Gardener And Pet

Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis

The praying mantis is by no means an ordinary insect. Their many beneficial abilities are why people can find praying mantis for sale. Many times they are used as a means of organic pest control because of their natural pest control abilities. They prey on almost every other type of insect but do not harm vegetation. Praying mantis has a typical life cycle of six months to an entire year, which gives them an adequate amount of time to be utilized as preventative pest control in areas of any size from small gardens to large organic farming operations.

They are not exclusively left free to devour insects in the garden. Some people keep praying mantis as pets. If anyone purchases praying mantis they are making a good investment because just before winter the females lay anywhere from one hundred to four hundred eggs in a weatherproof sac. This is the first stage in the praying mantis life cycle.

Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis

During the next stage of life, after hatching, the praying mantises exist as nymphs. They are very small and eat other small insects. Many changes take place during this stage as they grow. A lot of the nymphs will make it to the next stage, adolescence.

By summer time, praying mantises have grown into adulthood and are great and stealth predators. There are praying mantis facts available to research on many interesting websites such as National Geographic’s Praying Mantis website and other sites that are dedicated to these insects that act as natural pesticides.

Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis

There is no other bug killer as effective when it comes to keeping other insects at bay. That is why the Chinese Praying Mantis was intentionally brought to North America as a means of pest control as early as the 19th Century. They not only feed on insects but have been observed preying on other small creatures that can be detrimental to vegetation.

The female praying mantises are especially interesting because they grow bigger than the males of the species. In most species of any animal or insect the males are usually bigger. The part of the life cycle in which the praying mantis breeds (during the end of summer) is a strange twist in conventional mating processes because the female devours the male when she has achieved her breeding mission.

Because of the long and interesting life cycle of praying mantises, they are an asset to any garden or farming operation and are a great financial help as they save vegetation from otherwise detrimental damage by other insects. They also make interesting pets because the owner can feed the praying mantis various types of bugs and small creatures and watch in amazement at how stealthily the praying mantis hunts and eats its prey.

Praying Mantis Eggs; The Chinese Mantis And How To Care For Its Eggs

Mantis ootheca on fence in Cala de Mijas, Spain
Mantis ootheca on fence in Cala de Mijas, Spain

There are well over two thousand four hundred species of mantis, but the one most people commonly agree is the best kind of mantis to raise, for those whom have never raised them before is the Chinese mantis. It is the largest species of mantis in Northern America and also a very excellent source of natural pest control. Praying mantis are for sale at many different kind of pet shops and can even be ordered in from other countrys (for those die-hard mantis fanatics).

Ootheca
Ootheca

The Chinese mantis, like most other kind of mantis, lay their eggs in a hardened, temperature protecting case, called a ootheca, egg sack or egg case. When first produced by the female the casing is soft but it soon dries and when it does it acts in much the same fashion as concrete. This hard casing protects the insects until they are ready to hatch, from both predators and the environment. Though all mantis lay eggs their egg casing differs markedly species to species in size, shape and color.

Caring for the Egg Case (ootheca)

When you have purchased a female mantis and she has laid her eggs you should not bother her. After about three to five days after she has laid her eggs, the casing will be hard enough to allow you to remove the ootheca. It is highly recommended that you remove the nymphs, not just because of temperature and environmental concerns which they require when hatching, but also because the female adult will likely eat all of the nymphs! Remember that the praying mantis is a cannibalistic species.

Japanese Mantis Ootheca
Japanese Mantis Ootheca

Once the ootheca has been removed place it a enclosure that is at least about 15 cm up and down and 8 cm side to side. There will be a lot of mantis babies so this makes sure there is enough room for all of them when they finally emerge. Also make sure that this container has a lot of ventilation so that the mantis babies don’t die from oxygen deprivation. If you are using something that does not feature mesh or similar material try punching holes in the material but make sure that they are very small or else the mantis hatchlings may swarm your home!

Container with Praying Mantis Eggs (Ootheca egg cases)
Container with Praying Mantis Eggs (Ootheca egg cases)

Place the ootheca on the lid on the inside of your enclosure and make sure you place it with the same orientation that the female did previously. The egg sack can be secured with tape. If you use tape make sure that none of the adhesive is exposing or it will trap and kill any hatchlings that are unfortunate enough to walk across it. A needle or similar item may also be used if you know where the eggs are and are not, this is generally the tip of the ootheca.

Nymph Mantises Hatching from Praying Mantis Ootheca

When the eggs are ready to hatch ensure that you keep both the humidity and temperature at the appropriate level for your species. Use a substrate at the bottom of your insect enclosure to ensure high humidity.

 

Praying Mantis – Natural Pesticide

There are so many chemicals that we get exposed to every day. It is in our food, our energy systems, our air, and even in our pesticides. Have you considered natural pesticides to reduce the insect elements in your flower or vegetable garden? Organic pest controls are the safe and chemical-free alternative. How about some insect on insect warfare? Praying mantis insects are a natural pest control agent. They are interesting for children to observe and study as well as being very effective insect repellents and a natural form of preventative pest control.

What can Praying Mantis Pets do?

Mantis species, like the Chinese praying mantis, are voracious eaters. They seem to eat all the time! This makes them very effective in reducing the damaging insect populations around your gardens. Many garden shops provide customers with praying mantis for sale. The natural, and chemical free bug killer, the mantis, will quickly deplete the insects that you do not want in your garden.

Self-sufficient

The praying mantis is a self-sufficient insect, too. The female praying mantis is definitely an asset because she will lay eggs. Praying mantis eggs hold around 100 to 400 eggs each. This population of mantis babies, when hatched, will begin eating right away, and start with the very small aphids and other vegetation eating insects. One egg case will support around 1600 square feet.

Praying Mantis Life Cycle

The praying mantis lives a long time, around six months from hatching to the end of their life. They are natural hunters that begin eating from the moment they emerge from their egg cases. The life cycle begins with eggs that are fertilized just before the winter. Their gestation period is about four months, emerging and ready to eliminate their insect foes.

When they first leave the security of their egg sacks they actually have more opportunity to eat each other. Praying mantis nymphs are actually weeding out the weaker of their species in this way because the strongest hunters will succeed and will progress on to adolescence. As a teenage mantis they will shed their skin to allow for growth to their full 1 to 6 inch adult length.

Since a mantis has a long life cycle, they are effective hunters for a complete season of planting. They can protect your flowers as well as your vegetables. They are not discriminatory, and will eat any insect pest that ventures into its domain. Since they reproduce in the late fall, once a person has purchased praying mantis eggs, they will likely have a lifetime supply through natural reproduction. Each year the garden should be equally protected as the population of mantis is maintained by food supply.

Praying mantis can be bought as adults in the spring, or as egg cases in the wintertime. Regardless of whether insects or their unborn offspring are purchased, this natural pesticide will keep your garden free of chemicals that may be harmful to yourself and your family as well as the environment. They are interesting and attractive to look at and they self-maintain through their own voracious appetites.

How To Raise A Pet Praying Mantis

A praying mantis as a pet can make a unique and delightful pet. These unusual creatures will give hours of pleasure to its owner. However, proper care must be taken to keep your praying mantis strong and healthy.

Your praying mantis will need an enclosure that is at least three times longer than the body length and two times wider than the body width. This will allow plenty of room for the praying mantis to walk around and shed its exoskeleton (outer shell) when necessary. A good rule of thumb is to use a container that is at least 6 X 6 in diameter.

The container should be well ventilated. Mesh or screen is a great option to use for the sides. Also make sure the container has a secure lid as the praying mantis is smart and will sense an escape route.

Next, fill the enclosure with appropriate substances for your pet praying mantis. Start with something on the bottom to hold water such as tissue paper, shredded wood, bark or sand. The purpose of this is to keep the humidity somewhat constant. Every praying mantis requires a specific temperature and humidity to survive. It is advisable to speak with someone at a pet store or look online for your specific species.

A quick praying mantis fact: there are over 2000 species of praying mantis!

Add branches and other items your pet praying mantis can climb or sit on. Make sure to choose objects that are safe and that there is plenty of room to move between the objects. A living plant is a good option if there is room for it.

Unlike pets such as a dog or cat, your pet praying mantis does not need to eat every day. A typical feeding schedule is one to four days depending on the species, the type of food you are providing and where it is in its life cycle.

There are three stages to the praying mantis life cycle; the egg stage, nymph stage and adult stage. The life span of an adult praying mantis is typically six months.

The praying mantis eats only live insects for food. A nymph will require smaller bugs such as aphids, micro crickets, gnats and fruit flies to name a few. For a molting mantis serve up larger sized bugs though not those that a full grown adult would eat. During the adult stage your praying mantis can eat butterflies, grasshoppers, crickets, houseflies and other insects. An adult female praying mantis will typically eat more than an adult male.

To make sure your pet praying mantis is eating the food you bring it, you may want to watch until it catches the prey or offer it with a tweezers directly to the mantis. Otherwise, if the bugs hide or escape your praying mantis could end up starving.

The praying mantis is small, producing little waste so its enclosure will need infrequent cleaning. However, be sure to remove partially eaten prey so they don’t start to rot and smell. When cleaning the enclosure simply remove the bottom absorbent and use hot water to wipe. Do not use detergent or other chemicals as this may harm your pet praying mantis. Once the enclosure is dry simply add fresh absorbent material in the bottom and replace twigs, plants and other items and its done!