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      Background Information
Praying Mantises are part of a very large family of insects that contain about 2,200 species in nine families that live all over the world in both temperate and tropical climates. Most of the species are in the family Mantidae, which is the creature we offer and which is what most of us think of when we hear the name, "Praying Mantis."

The closest relatives of mantises are termites and cockroaches, and the three are sometimes even ranked as an order rather than suborder. Confused? Well, the entire family order and suborder of these insects is the subject of ongoing debate in the entomology world.
compound eye

The structure of the compound eye creates the illusion of a small pupil
Mantis foreleg The name praying mantis refers to the prayer-like stance of the insect (the name is often misspelled as "preying" mantis because they are predatory). Praying mantises are often confused with phasmids (stick-leaf insects) and other elongated insects.
Mantises have two grasping, spiked forelegs called "raptorial legs" in which prey items are caught and held securely (see image above). The movement of the head is also remarkably flexible, permitting nearly 300 degrees of movement in some species and allowing for a great range of vision without the need to move their bodies. As their hunting relies heavily on vision, they are primarily diurnal, meaning active during the daytime.

      What & How Do Praying Mantises Eat?
The praying mantis is almost exclusively predatory and carnivorous, with insects forming most of their diet. They will eat basically ANYTHING that they can capture, overcome and usually eat alive- YIKES! For this reason, mantises are not known to be finicky eaters. They may even practice cannibalism when hungry enough. Most people keeping mantids as pets will initially feed them flightless fruit flies when they hatch and then switch to larger critters as the mantids grow. mantis hunting
Most praying mantises are ambush hunters that wait for prey to wander close enough. With amazing speed, they will then strike out and grab the unfortunate critter with the oversized, claw-like fore limbs that allow them to securely hold the struggling meal. Some specifies do, however, actually chase their meals down. Some mantids can grow very large and these larger mantid species have been known to prey on fish, birds, snakes, lizards, even rodents. YIKES again! Here at the Praying Mantis Shop, we offer all the above and below insects for your pets, so CLICK AWAY AND SHOP!

Although the claws may look big and wicked, they aren't much in the way of providing protection. Praying mantises have little in the way of self-defense except for the use of camouflage. They are protected simply by remaining still (which they can do very well) and blending into their surroundings, with most species making use of protective coloring to match their surrounding foliage or substrate. Many mantis species will also fan their wings out when directly threatened, which makes them seem larger and more menacing to other predators. praying mantis art
"Don't mind me,
I'm just trying to blend in."
And yet some other species may hiss at would-be predators. Praying mantises can bite, but they have no venom. Nearly any large predatory animal, such as bullfrogs, snakes and many reptiles and amphibians will eat a mantis, not to mention your household cat or dog, so be sure to watch out for your buddies!

      Pest Control
The use of praying mantises as a form of biological pest control is becoming more and more common, as it should. The spraying of chemical poisons in the garden and into our environment is increasingly being seen by folks more negatively, also as should be.

As we know, praying mantises are pretty big eaters. They would love to snack on little morsels of aphid, worm, grub, etc. But beware, the mantid will eat beneficial insects as well, such as lady bug larvae and lace wings.

We DO recommend the use of the praying mantis to control large outbreaks and infestations of harmful insects. Since the mantid is basically a transitory creature, they will soon move on and you'll be left with a pest population devastated by your little helpers.

many different insects

As a method of biological pest control, praying mantises are great, along with lady bugs (far left), which can also be purchased. Be aware that the mantises will eat good bugs as well, including perhaps what one may consider "good" caterpillars (second from left) that turn into pretty butterflies. But, you'll definitely want your mantid buddies eating the dreaded tomato hornworm (third from left) that will devour your tomato vines. Also bad and on the mantis menu: Earwigs and hungry, greedy grasshoppers (last two on right respectively).

mantid egg case on leaf
Praying mantis egg cases are attached to branches or leafs in the wild, waiting for Spring.
The praying mantis female attaches a sticky egg case to the underside of a leaf or branch during the Fall (see image left). The egg case will begin to hatch sometime during late Spring and early Summer when temperatures warm up and the egg case magically comes to life after a chilly winter.

The offspring, called nymphs pop out of the egg case in rapid succession. They are approximately 4 mm long at "birth." Once having time to "adjust" to the world, they begin to eat. They are voracious eaters all through life. They will sometimes even cannibalize each other if left without enough food. Unlike a typical larva, biologically speaking a nymph's overall form already resembles that of the adult. Nymphs do not enter a pupa or metamorphic stage, although they do molt or shed their skin.

At The Praying Mantis Shop, of course, EGG CASES are available !

Also, we stock a large variety of praying mantis LIVING FOOD
as well as other SUPPLIES and EDUCATIONAL ITEMS.

Browse our store, won't you?
tiny mantid nymph
Tiny Newborn
Mantis Nymphs

      How To Care For Praying Mantis Pets - Food & Love
Many people LOVE having pet praying mantises. Or, as mentioned above, they make a very useful "garden pet." Don't forget the incredible classroom science project that mantises will make.

The praying mantises may emerge from the egg right away, but you can expect them to take 4-6 weeks to hatch. The case may hatch over 100 mantises, but you can realistically expect five or so to survive. This is because you'll ultimately need to place only one individual in each enclosure.

Upon receipt of your praying mantis egg case, place it inside your enclosure. Mantises need plenty of areas to climb around, hide and stalk food, so place vegetation - either living or non-living along with some branches and leaves inside the enclosure. The egg case should be kept at room temperature. If it's kept chilly, it may take longer to hatch or may not at all. You may also place the case outside amongst the garden foliage if you are using the mantises for biological control. Do not let direct sunlight hit the egg case. If humidity is dry, mist the foliage inside the enclosure once or twice.

Please be patient, the egg case WILL hatch. The timing of the hatch will vary from egg case to egg case and with conditions such as temperature. Some will hatch quickly and others will take much longer.

After hatching, the egg case does not appear changed in any way. If you have hung the case in your garden, you may see the tiny babies or nymphs near the case. Since mantises are basically transitory, they will roam all parts of your garden and many are sure to leave it altogether. Some may be eaten by birds or lizards. Just be sure there is food in your garden such as aphids. If not, you may be interested in the food items we offer.

Provide the newborn mantises with food and water right away. Be sure to mist the entire inside of the enclosure daily. Our Flightless Fruit Flies can not only be fed to your pet mantises in cages, but can also be sprinkled around the garden for your free-range mantises if their habitat doesn't show much sign of life yet.

Please visit our Mantis Nymph Food Page if you are in need of food for your newly hatched mantids. If you have larger mantids, you may be interested in our Mantis Adult Food Page.

Continue to mist frequently and provide continuous food. Keep them out of direct sunlight and keep the humidity up by misting. Some of the nymphs will die, which is normal. Or may be eaten by their brothers or sisters if they are hungry. After a couple of days, separate the number you'll want to keep into individual enclosures. You may wish to still keep the remaining nymphs in the mass enclosure in case one of the separated individuals die.

As they grow, the mantises will eat larger and larger food and will need more and more room. If you are keeping the praying mantises in one of our enclosures or your own, be sure there is room for them to move around and have their own space from each other. Mantises need places to climb.

Clean your pet's enclosure weekly. Be sure there is always some food, such as our flightless fruit flies available in the enclosure. Beware of slots in the lids of critter keepers or other screen lids. The nymphs will quickly escape through very small openings. Our Nymph Enclosure or Pagoda will ensure that the newborns and flightless flies don't get out.

Keep the mantises at a comfortable room temperature. Unlike reptiles, praying mantises need no special lights or vitamin d supplements (they have no bones). Also, no special dusting of their food with vitamins is necessary. How EASY!

Through observation and interaction, we believe praying mantises are rather unique. You can sense almost an alien intelligence as they turn their heads to look at you looking at them. You can hold your new friends and teach them to walk on your fingers. You may even get them to take food from your hand! Be sure to give them a special name and HAVE FUN!

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Here at the Praying Mantis Shop, you'll find everything needed in order to welcome your new praying mantis friends, including: Should you have any questions or needs, we are always here to help-
Please Contact Us Here.

      Further Reading

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - You'll find more information on the FAQ page of our website.

National Geographic - One of our favorite places to find information on just about anything in nature that's under the sun.

Wikipedia - All about the mantis on our favorite website to learn about anything.

WikiHow - How to Take Care of a Praying Mantis - A very easy to read, step-by-step guide about how to care for this amazing creature.    |   PO Box 84773, San Diego, CA 92138    |   Copyright © 2023 The Silkworm Shop

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