PRAYING MANTIS FACT SHEET & Release Instructions
Praying mantis are beautiful insects with a voracious appetite, and a
delight to have in the garden. Being strictly carnivorous, they'll eat
almost any insect of a size they can overcome. Waiting in quiet ambush
for hours at a time, when an insect comes wandering by they suddenly
jump out and attack - always biting the neck first. At rest, they seem
to be "praying", holding their "hands" together.
Each praying mantis egg case will hatch about 100-200 tiny mantises, all
at once. In order to hatch they'll need several weeks of warm weather,
so they can "sense" that summer (and pest insects for food) has arrived.
Attach the egg cases to a twig or plant about a foot or two off the
ground where there's cover to protect the babies. When hatching, the
young crawl from between tiny flaps in the cases and hang from silken
threads about 2" below the case. After drying out, the long-legged young
disperse into the vegetation leaving no evidence of their appearance.
This happens within an hour or two, and it's very difficult to know
hatching has occurred unless the elusive, well camouflaged young are
found. (The egg case does not change appearance in any way.) If you'd
like to see when the mantis have hatched, place the egg cases in a paper
bag, fold the top and seal shut with a paper clip or clothes pin. Place
the bag on a window sill in direct sunlight. Periodically open the bag
carefully, and when you see tiny mantids running around inside, take
them outside and sprinkle them throughout the garden. Be patient -
sometimes it takes up to eight weeks of warm weather for them to hatch.
Once hatched, praying mantis begin feeding on small insects, such as
aphids. Later on, they'll continue advancing up to larger and larger
prey. By summer's end, praying mantis can reach several inches in
length. In the fall, females produce more eggs, deposited in a frothy
secretion that hardens to protect the eggs from predators and severe
winter climates. Egg cases are attached to twigs, leaves, fences, etc.
Several egg cases may be laid before cold winter finally sets in. This
new generation of praying mantis will hatch when warm weather returns,
to repeat the process.
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