Praying mantids eat a wide variety of pest insects, mites, and insect eggs. Young mantids prey upon soft-bodied insects such as Aphids, Leafhoppers, Mosquitoes, and Caterpillars. As adults they will eat larger, hard shelled insects such as small Beetles, Grasshoppers and Crickets.
Praying mantids are shipped in their natural egg cases, which are called ootheca. The ootheca are comprised of many single eggs encased in the mothers dried, foamy saliva. Each ootheca is gathered in the wild and may contain between 50 and 200 individual eggs.
Hatching requires at least 10 to 15 days of continuous warm weather but can take as long as 8 weeks to commence. Once hatching begins, the young mantids will emerge from the egg cases and rapidly look for something to eat. Cannibalism may occur with low pest densities present.
Once hatching commences, it will be complete within a few hours and the newly hatched mantids disappear rapidly into the vegetation looking for food. This beneficial is well camouflaged and can seem to disappear. They leave very little evidence of hatching.
Outdoor Releases of Praying Mantid Egg Cases:
You can attach the egg case(s) to a twig or a plant using a twist-tie or wire tie. Carefully wrap the wire around the egg case and tie it to a branch in warm location with indirect (filtered) sunlight. Do not hang in the direct sun. A hanging egg case, especially one that swings or moves with the wind, is safer from birds and other predators.
Indoor Releases of Praying Mantid Egg Cases:
If you wish to hatch them indoors and release them into the garden, here are some instructions that will help you optimize results:
- Choose a container to place the egg case(s) in. Mason jars or brown paper bags are ideal as they come in various sizes and can be covered with plastic or paper easily.
- Place egg case(s) inside of the container and cover with something that will keep hatched mantids within the container. Perforate the covering.
- Set container somewhere out of direct sunlight and wait for mantids to hatch.
- Once mantids emerge, release them outdoors. Hang the egg case(s) in the canopy of a plant to allow slower hatching mantids to emerge.
Environment: Outdoors, Vegetable Gardens, HoopHouses, Orchards & Vineyards, Greenhouse, Aquaponics
Application Rate: Use 3 cases every 5,000 sq. ft. or 10-100 cases per acre.
Storage: Store in a refrigerated environment until hatching is desired. If not releasing immediately, keep in a cool dark place out of direct sunlight. May be refrigerated for several weeks before release. Do not freeze. Optimal conditions for hatching are 70 to 90° F, 40 - 95% humidity.
Cannot Be Shipped To: HI, PR, VI, GU, AS, PW
Shipping Restrictions: USPS
Warning & Toxicities: If there are no pest insects nearby, praying mantids may resort to cannibalizing their siblings.
Shelf Life: For best hatching, use as soon after receipt as possible.