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Prologue: Not that long ago as we say at the glacier races, we
promised to give you the info on rearing your preying mantis from the egg.
You've been on tenterhooks (whatever they are) since. At last, here's
the info you've been impatiently waiting for. LA
Mantid Eggs: As warm weather wraps up in the fall, female
mantids start laying their eggs in a frothy mass that can assume nearly any
shape. It's like that insulation stuff that comes in a pressurized
can. You squirt it out in a white foam that sticks to anything and
then hardens up. After a winter of cold weather, the little guys
emerge in quantity and begin to cannibalize each other. If you save a
half-dozen or so, you still have plenty to take care of.
Hatchling Care: As mentioned earlier, baby mantids like other baby mantids for lunch. If you can get pinhead crickets, you're all set. Even 1/4-inch crickets are too large. Wingless fruit flies will also work, but they are hard to find. And winged fruit flies are hard to catch. "Wurra, wurra" as the wicked witch of the East said until the house fell on her. What to do, what to do? Open one of those cute little three-ounce cans of cat food. Cat food? Who'da thunk it?
Hatchlings Eat Cat Food. You can't plop the cat food in a dish and expect your hatchling mantis to eat the whole bowlful. Or even taste it. You'll need a few paper clips to get this job done. You want to prize out tiny bits of cat food and offer it to your new mini-pet. You'll need to offer it more than once to coax him to eat it
LA Baby mantis trying to pull off a tiny chunk of cat food.
Feed Frequently. You'll need to feed your baby mantis at least twice a day. More often would be better. But don't quit your day job. These two-inch deli cups enable us to give each mantis his/her own executive suite. You really won't have much luck unless you keep each little cannibal in separate quarters. They usually move at a slow pace, but these slow-moving little critters can jump surprisingly far and fast. You notice this most when you first start wrangling a herd of the new guys. They all want to jump in different directions until they get used to you. Once they recognize you as their food provider, they start looking forward to your presence.
Beware of Crickets. Crickets will eat anything organic -- including baby mantids. If you add crickets too large for your mantis to overpower, you may lose your mantis. If you read our Black Widow Spider page, you'll see a cricket that ate a black widow spider.
Water Daily. We probably should have mentioned water earlier. It's even more important than food. Forget a water bowl. You'll find a mister works best. Just aim the mist in his general direction and he'll figure it out. You may want to mist him more than once per day.
Other Foods. He can obviously eat small crickets at this size, but you really should vary his diet a bit. House flies and millers (small moths) are fairly easy to come by. Phoenix worms are the larvae of the soldier fly, so they'll be welcomed also, as will wax worms.
Molting. Get a little food into your mantis and he'll grow by molting. He'll increase in size each time he sheds his skin. He'll go through quite a few suits before he attains maturity.
Last Words. Some of our customers buy those mantid egg cases from an ad in the back of gardening magazines. For best results, you want to keep them cold until spring. Obviously, you wouldn't want to run a couple hundred hand-fed mantid ranch. But if you want to push the bounds of nature a bit, hand raising mantids can be fun. LA
More mantis info at:
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