Category Archives: Praying Mantis

Using The Praying Mantis For Organic Pest Control

Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis

The praying mantis is an oddity with their large size and ability to turn their head 180 degrees. However, this odd little creature just might be an organic gardener’s best friend. For those who dread the thought of chemical pest control the praying mantis may just be a savior. What better form of organic pest control could there be? The praying mantises are effective at controlling problematic bugs and worms that can destroy a garden. They are great for both ornamental and vegetable gardens.

They are one of the few nocturnal predators capable of catching and eating moths. The moth itself isn’t a problem; it is their larvae that can destroy plants. In fact, these destructive larvae can destroy whole plants in a matter of days.

Rest assured, there is no need to worry about the larvae from a praying mantis as their young, called nymphs, are born already formed-no larvae stage. Best of all from a gardeners standpoint, moments after emerging the little nymphs are hungry and start hunting for prey to appease their hunger.

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 organic gardener needs to take care when pruning or cleaning up the garden in the fall so they do not unintentionally destroy any praying mantis eggs. Female mantises mate in the late summer and will lay her eggs in the fall. This is typically near the end of the female’s life cycle.

The female will generally deposit her eggs on a branch or twig but occasionally leaves them on walls, fences or under eaves. They are ensconced in a frothy liquid, termed ootheca, which will harden into an egg case about the size of a pencil and approximately an inch long.

Again, it is important that the organic gardener recognize the egg cases so they don’t inadvertently destroy them. They are most visible in the winter when trees and shrubs lose their leaves. Any of the cases found should be set aside and protected in a safe part of the garden if they must be moved. They should never be placed directly on the ground as ants find them to be a treat and will quickly consume them.

The young nymphs are only about the size of a small ant when they emerge but they are hungry little bugs. They will immediately begin assailing and eating leaf hoppers, gnats, aphids and other small insects.

An organic gardener knows that their garden relies on the delicate balance of predator and prey to keep unwanted pests at bay. Using the praying mantis is one of the most efficient and safest forms of organic pest control available.

The Dark And Fascinating Mating Habits Of The Praying Mantis

The praying mantis, so named for the prayer like gesture that it’s “hands,” seem to be making when inert, is a voracious predator. People often talk of the strange, black widow like mating habits of the praying mantis. Like the females proclivity to eat the male after mating and so has come to be viewed as something of an evil seductress. The insatiable, femme fatale who lures the poor, unsuspecting male praying mantis to his inevitable doom. But is such a dark and dreary reputation deserved? Does the conjoining of male and female in the praying mantis species always end in cannibalism? Let us explore the answer below.

The first time that the mantis’ cannibalistic proclivities began to surface to the world was when scientists attempted to observed them in a laboratory setting. The researchers would proffer a captive female with a prospective male mate. They would then sit back and watch with shock and horror as the female mantis tore the poor male apart, limb by limb and then devoured it’s head.

The male had served his purpose as a mate and was therefore disposable. Nothing more or less than a warm meal. For many years this bizarre ritual was thought to be the universal way in which the praying mantis bred in the wild.

However, things could not be further from the truth and when entomologists began to observe the praying mantis in it’s natural habitat, the story tended to end quite differently; specifically, much more happily for the males. For when they were unconfined in a laboratory setting, almost all of the praying mantis mating that was observed ended with the male mantis flying away, unscathed. By all modern calculations, the sexual cannibalism observed occurs less than thirty percent of time when the male and female are in a unbound setting beyond a lab. That, for the male, is quite a good set of odds of eaten or not eaten.

The sexual ritual of the praying mantis is also quite different in the wild, as it turns out. It is a lengthy courtship, quite a romantic thing far removed from the horrid decapitations of a lab, and typically ends with both parties quite satisfied and unharmed.

Yet there is a undeniable, somewhat horrible, advantage to the female if she does decide to decapitated her unsuspecting lover. It is a strange fact and yet completely true that the brain of a praying mantis controls inhibition. A similar ganglion in the abdomen, takes over for the bodily motions involved in mantis reproduction. Therefore, if the female decapitates the males head during intercourse he will copulate to her with wild abandon.

And so what if the female is hungry? That is typically where the thirty percent comes in. If a male chooses to mate with a hungry female he is unlikely to live to bred again.

The Myths And Legends Of The Praying Mantis


Insects hold many places in our collective culture. Spiders are generally feared and shied away from. Ants are generally seen as nuisances and destroyed quickly. Caterpillars are seen with wonder as they cocoon themselves and become the butterfly, a thing of beauty and wonder that capture all our imaginations.

Yet no creature of the insect creature is so prevalent in everyday life, as still mysterious and myth shrouded as the Praying Mantis. These bug killers are still looked at through a veil of myth and wonder even though they are now prevalent on every continent in the world save Antarctica.

The ancient Chinese saw the praying mantis as a symbol of fearlessness and courage. They used the creature as a symbol for how to wage war, ‘strike fast and without hesitation.’ The Mantis has even been the inspiration behind not one, but two separate styles of martial arts combat. The creature has seen an almost worship of its movements, and the two Mantis Styles are even becoming popular in the west now as well.

Speaking of worship, did you know that the Mantis is seen as a god in two separate yet connected traditions of South Africa? Mantis and several other bugs and arachnids are seen as gods in African mythology. Meaning Seer in ancient Greek languages, the Mantis holds a place of honor in their myths as well. The Mantis is being seen as a sort of prophet or symbol of wisdom to the ancient Greeks. In Australia, native populations and even animal populations fear them and avoid their territory.

Praying mantis can be terrifying to behold with its speed (they strike faster than a human can see) and voraciousness. Large Mantis’ have been known to capture small lizards. They have been known to kill birds (even fast little hummingbirds) and feast on them as well. They are majestic predators of the first order using speed and cunning and camouflage to get it done.

Now for a few weird facts about Mantis. They can rotate their heads a full 180 degrees. It makes for a weird and amusing site. They are relatively new on the evolutionary track and serve as a good study in recent genetic evolutions. And yes a female mantis sometimes will eat their mate after the mating is done.

Today we find Praying Mantis for sale as pets or agriculture aids. They are used to control pests in crops as a natural pest control. They are also used heavily as an organic pest control, and a preventative pest control. Praying mantis pets are sought after over the entirety of the exotic animal market.

Whatever you’re reasoning for looking into one, a Praying Mantis is a fantastic and wondrous creature. Worth every bit of study and reading, and truly deserving of the myth and reverence they hold.

The Joys Of Owning A Chinese Praying Mantis

If you are interested in a praying mantis for sale, or thinking of being an owner, then this article will be beneficial to you. First, think of owning your mantis for organic pest control. If you are deploying broad spectrum chemicals on your property, you won’t find one as Chinese Praying Mantis only are happy in environments that are free of chemicals.

But using the Chinese Praying Mantis for organic pest control is common. People often buy large supplies of nymphs each spring and place them in their garden. Ferocious predators, they work for you all their life of maybe a year, serving you well.

As a praying mantis pet, they are a good addition to your family. They reach about five inches long with colors ranging from pale green or tan with a distinct line of green running down its body. Blessed with a head shaped as a triangle that swivels, it is a superior hunter, as it will track without moving. Fascinating to watch, any insect that flies or creeps slowly past makes a yummy meal.

Harmless to humans, they can at times not be kind to each other. The praying mantis life cycle is interesting. Often after mating the female will eat the male to help feed the praying mantis eggs as well as nutrition to the mother. The sexual cannibalism is common. Mating usually begins in the fall. On the average, four hundred eggs are developed in a foamy mass that hardens into a capsule that can hang on a tree, placed on the ground, or any flat surface. Sometimes the mother will stand guard.

Watching for not hatchings of praying mantis are fun. Gather an egg case and find a brown bag of paper. Fasten it closed with a wooden clothes pin or a paper clip. Put the bag in a safe place in a warm sunny place. Check the bag on a periodic schedule and if you see babies, gently tag their home outside and place every few all over your property. You may have to wait for hatchings to appear in eight weeks so patience in this case is a future.

The three stages of the praying mantis life cycle are egg, then the baby nymph, and then swift growth to adult. Nymphs are without wings or genitals that function.

If you purchase a praying mantis as a pet, they adapt to the presence of humans and will become friends and low you to hold them by perching on your hand and often taking feedings from you. They are easy to care for but remember they must live alone. An exoskeleton is present and molting does occur as the mantis grows. In warmer climates, mantises live ten to twelve months. Cold climates are not kind to both male and female. Those mantises in captivity tend to live a few more months.

An interesting side note: Several martial arts moves and strategies have been developed in northern China, which are patterned after the Chinese Praying Mantis. In recent decades, popularity for these martial arts has increased in North America.

Praying Mantis Army Defends And Protects My Backyard Garden From Pests!

As young Boy Scouts growing up in the Carolina outdoors, we were fascinated with all of the animals, insects and other “critters” we could find in the woods and swamps of the Piedmont. But the praying mantis was always among our most sought-after finds – any large, voracious predatory beast like the praying mantis that would attack and eat lesser insects are always of tremendous interest to young boys, and having praying mantis pets in the home terrarium would make any boy the boss of his neighborhood.

I never captured one until many years later, on a late night fuel stop deep in the tobacco road region of South Carolina when my dream of having a pet praying mantis finally came true – a magnificent 5” specimen landed right on top of my car hood as I sleepily filled my tank. Moving slowly and deliberately as not to startle him into flying off, I managed to throw a pillow case over him and captured my trophy-sized Carolina Praying Mantis at last!

Once I got home and put him in a hastily-prepared terrarium made from an old fish tank, I immediately set out to learn every praying mantis fact I could find – learning how to feed and care for them, all about praying mantis life cycles, breeding, praying mantis eggs, etc – everything I could find in my encyclopedias and online. It was only then that I learned their tremendous potential for organic pest control that would allow me to convert my entire backyard garden to this natural pest control method – the Praying Mantis was the ruthless bug killer that would finally save my grape vines from the nasty little grub worms that had stripped entire stalks of leaves overnight!

As my two young sons captured and fed all sorts of bugs to “Attila”, our beloved 5” praying mantis pet, I excitedly ordered praying mantis eggs for our extensive back yard garden. The pods arrived in perfect condition, and I just placed them among the cornstalks, bean poles, grape vines and tomato cages in my raised square foot garden plots and left them to nature. Not long afterward, the pods just emptied themselves naturally, unleashing an army of hungry praying mantis predators to execute the preventative and natural pest control I wanted for my family’s vegetable garden.

Knowing that this little army of bug-eaters were hard at work, I warily skipped my yearly application of chemical pest control products, and hopefully crossed my fingers. Amazingly, while this brigade of aggressive pest predators still remained very difficult to spot at work in my garden, the entire crop thrived and produced the first worm-free corn stalks, grape vines, and healthy, uninjured vegetable plants in my entire gardening history! The Praying Mantis army had conquered and devoured pretty much every pest in my garden!

Praying Mantises As Bug Killers

Praying Mantises can be found for sale in many easy and convenient ways now. You can find them online on popular sites such as Amazon and eBay as adults or in egg cases. Adult mantises tend to run more expensive, while egg cases can be purchased in bulk. Cases are typically sold in sets of 5, with each case yielding 200-2,000 babies. These can be purchased for $17.99 to $35.00, but smaller lots of 3 can go for less than $10.00. Garden stores, such as big name chains Home Depot and Lowe’s, can sell tens of thousands of mantis egg cases each year. They are typically available January through April as mantises lay eggs in the spring and these cases need to be stored at low temperature to simulate the hibernation cycle.

If you’re wondering why these would be so widely available you’re asking the right question. There are many reasons why one might want purchase a Praying Mantis or mantis eggs, but one of the most beneficial reasons to have a Praying Mantis around is because of its inherent ability to keep away unwanted bugs. Many gardeners, who believe in an organic approach to gardening, work to avoid using pesticides and one way they do this by using mantises as a biological pest control. Each case contains about 200 eggs and covers about 6,500 square feet. At less than $10 a case this is a very affordable and environmentally free way to protect your garden.

Praying Mantises are natural predators to many types of bugs that plague gardens and yards. This includes: Japanese Beetles, the culprits that eat your beautiful roses, moths, whose larvae can destroy entire plants over the course of just a few days, grasshoppers, stink bugs, flies, aphids, and insects. Praying Mantises are predatory in nature but harmless to humans; therefore making a great natural remedy for unwanted pests in your yard or gardens. Praying mantises will be the gift that keeps on giving as you can look for your current praying mantis to lay egg sacks which you can take care of during the hibernation period in order to have more for the next season.

If you are a creative gardener who loves to promote and observe nature being nature than the use of praying mantises in your garden is the perfect option for you. These natural predators will create a welcomed balance in your garden oasis and will have all your neighbors asking what your secret is. You can sleep soundly knowing that you are not pouring any harmful chemicals into Mother Earth and are still able to produce plants and flowers of great size and beauty. Tap into this natural remedy today in order to produce the results that you are looking for.

The Praying Mantis: The Hero That Your Garden (Probably) Deserves

When the casual garden-dweller witnesses a praying mantis in action, it is probably not without some trepidation. These carnivores are swift enough to snag a moth in mid-air and merciless enough to consume members of their own species when other sources of food run low. Even their appearance is unnerving; with two bulging eyes atop a narrow face, the mantis resembles the archetypical alien of twentieth-century sci-fi films. Mantises can even rotate their head a full 360 degrees—not unlike young Regan from The Exorcist. While these creatures are certainly horror-movie material as far as other insects are concerned, their voracious appetite makes them particularly useful to gardeners. When it comes to biological pest control, the praying mantis is the grower’s best friend.

Mantises target many of the more burdensome leaf-eating species (e.g. beetles and grasshoppers), and unlike most humans, they love cockroaches. The praying mantis is also one of few nighttime predators skillful enough to catch and eat moths. While adult moths are not a noteworthy threat, their larvae are capable of devastating whole gardens. Many horticulturalists argue that a thriving mantid population is essential for any healthy organic garden. Special care must be taken to provide a suitable habitat for these species; even minimal chemical pesticide use can devastate praying mantis populations. Whereas species can take years to reestablish themselves, crop-devouring pests will return with a vengeance and—unburdened by predators—will wreak havoc on defenseless gardens. For this reason, growers should consider purchasing dormant mantid egg cases.

Mantises in the Wild

Praying mantises are avid eaters. They will ultimately consume both harmful and beneficial insect species, and each other if nothing else suffices. Mantises can hunt both during the day and at night, maximizing their chow time. They are both quick and stealthy; typically a shade of green or brown, mantises are adept at camouflaging themselves amongst the spring- and summer-time shrubbery. While a few species of praying mantis are native to temperate North America, most can be found in tropical climates.

Female praying mantises are notorious for decapitating their mating partners en coitus, but some males do escape with their lives after consummation. Mating takes place in late summer and females deposit their eggs in late fall before succumbing to the cold. The hungry offspring emerge the following spring and immediately seek out smaller insects such as leafhoppers, aphids, and small flies for consumption. Praying mantises don’t change much anatomically throughout their life cycle; mantis nymphs are essentially smaller-scale versions of their parents.

Mantises as Pets

Praying mantises can also be kept as pets, but prospective pet owners should keep in mind that the maximum expected life span for any mantis species is only about a year. There are a number of options to consider as far as appearance goes. Their size can vary quite a bit, from less than an inch to six or more, and some are brown and twig-like while others are brightly colored. However, all praying mantises are carnivores and as such, should be housed individually. In order to house a praying mantis, you will need a relatively small tank (about three times its length and two times its width) filled with soil or peat mixed with vermiculite or sand as well as a few twigs from which the mantis can hang while molting.

Misting is probably the easiest and safest way to provide your pet mantis with water. Especially in the case of young nymphs, they can drown in a water bowl. Many different types of insects should be provided, so that all nutritional needs are met. They can be fed simply by placing the intended prey inside of the tank, but if the enclosure is too large, the mantis may have a difficult time finding its food. Ideal temperature, humidity, and food will vary by species, so it’s a good idea to do some research before committing to owning a praying mantis.

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.

 

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!