Praying Mantis / Praying Mantid


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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
$12.00
5 Mantid Egg Cases
$15.00
10 Egg Cases
$24.00
20 or more
$1.95 each

 

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The Beneficial Insect Co.
PO Box 471143
Charlotte, NC 28247-1143
Last updated Sat / 06.21.10
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