Praying mantises are very hungry insects. They aren’t too picky with what they eat, but once the food source is gone they won’t stick around very long to wait for more food. Praying mantises have to eat, and unfortunately if there is no food for them they will not survive. They are one of the best insects to have in the garden because of all of the bugs they will eat. For example they will eat are aphids, beetles, caterpillars, and hornworms which are all pests which will eat your plants. They are “exclusively predatory” which means that they will not eat your plants, only insects.
It takes several weeks (as many as 8) of warm weather for the Praying Mantis eggs to hatch, so warmer weather is crucial for these insects. They need to be warm, but not in direct sunlight so some form of shade or protection from direct sunlight should be offered when releasing the eggs. This also ensures that the eggs are protected from predators as well. To release praying mantises, it is best to attach the container they come in using twist ties to a tree and let them come out on their own. Praying mantis eggs need misting daily to keep them hydrated. Praying mantises can be kept in your fridges crisper for about a week as long as the container they are in is ventilated. As long as they are kept around 4°c, they will stay dormant. The egg sacs (ootheca) can be taken outside before it is warm enough, they will hatch when they are ready.
Another option for hatching your praying mantises is to put them inside a container with a mesh top and allow them to hatch inside. This can be beneficial as it keeps them warm, but if the container is too small and they are inside for too long the baby mantises will eat each other. This is natural, the mantises eat one another once they have hatched but if too many are eaten the chances of survival go down for what is left. Hatching them inside also makes for a fascinating experience to watch!
Praying Mantises can be released once the outside temperature is above 10°c. Typically, in temperate climates they will hatch in the springtime, and mature once the summertime rolls around.
Praying Mantises grow anywhere from 1-6 inches long once they’ve matured so you should be able to see them in your garden after they’ve hatched and had a chance to grow. Praying mantises can detect movement from up to 60 feet away, which is quite impressive for such a small creature. This allows them to see their prey quite easily. Some species can even rotate their heads 180°!
Praying mantises are fascinating creatures and quite good pest hunters if you can keep them in your garden. They can be tricky to get started, but will be a rewarding addition to your garden if you can keep them happy. If you have any questions or want to learn more about praying mantises and other beneficial bugs come visit your local Garden Gallery location!