Praying Mantis Natural Insect Control
Anyone whose ever seen a praying mantis knows how it got its
name, its large front legs make it look like it is praying.
Actually, these front legs are used for grasping its prey -
most commonly moths, flies and mosquitos, but they have also
been known to eat beetles, spiders, and grasshoppers.
Praying Mantis - Just what are they?
The actual correct name of a Praying Mantis
is Praying Mantid, and the scientific name
is Tenodera aridifolia sinensis. In the US, the mantid
is generally from 3-4 inches in length depending on the gender,
but some of the 1800 or so types of praying mantid can be up
to 12 inches long. Most scientists agree that praying mantids
are closely related to the grasshopper, cockroach and other
stick-type insects. A praying mantid starts life in an egg case,
each egg case contains from 100 to 400 eggs. These eggs winter
in a hard case known as a ootheca and the mantid nymphs hatch
in the spring, with their first meal often being one of their
syblings. As the mantid grows it will shed, a process known
as molting, many times before it is fully grown. As the mantid
grows it eats leafhoppers, aphids, mosquitoes and then moves
onto larger insects such as beetles, spiders, moths and grasshoppers.
One generation of matids mature over an entire summer to adulthood.
In the fall, female mantids will lay their eggs on sticks and
undersides of leaves and die approximately 3 weeks later.
How effective are they as natural predators?
As an organic insect control method, the praying mantis is
very effective. With a voracious appetite, the mantid will feed
on just about any pest insect. The Beneficial Insect Company
provides a variety of praying mantis introduced into the United
States approximately 75 years ago, the Chinese Praying
Mantis (scientific name Tenodera aridifolia
sinensis). With an enormous appetite they have
been known to eat up to 16 crickets per day and consume over
21 different species of insects.
An amazing number of people also keep the mantid as a pet.
They can be quite fun to watch and are quite active, especially
when they are young. They can be kept together, but require
lots of space and food and will eat each other if they are properly
fed. It is best to seperate them as they get older. Praying
mantis will not bite, but they will pinch if handled. The praying
mantis will also fly as an adult.
What sort of climate supports a praying mantis?
Praying mantis do best in temperate climates that average 70-80
degrees and 60 to 65% humidity. They do best in the central
and northeastern US and can typically be found in the wild in
these areas as well.
How many Praying Mantis do I need?
Praying mantis egg cases normally contain 100-400 eggs and
the egg cases should be spread at a rate of 3 egg cases per
5000 square feet. Praying mantis will start to eat as soon as
they emerge from their egg cases, usually very small insects
and each other. As they grow they will spread out and their
numbers will decrease to match their food supply.
How do I use the praying mantis egg cases?
The egg cases can be purchased and put outside in the spring
or fall. You can also "hatch" them inside in an aquarium
and spread them that way, timing their release with warmer temps.
It is important to know that they are voracious eaters, so count
on some losses if you hatch them inside without proper food.
Praying Mantis Prices
Praying mantis egg cases are available from The
Beneficial Insect Company which contain from 100-400 insects.
3 Egg Cases
5 Mantid Egg Cases
10 Egg Cases
20 or more