Tips & Tricks & Ootheca & nymph care sheet
Captive Bred Praying Mantis found all over the world!
This is something new at MantisPlace.com. So many customers want to know so much about their new pets that we thought it would be beneficial to post a Tips & Tricks page to help them. This is good for newbie's and oldies alike, if you have a tip or trick that works for you be sure to tell us about it. If it sounds useful, you may see it here. A word about mantis that may help you put their needs into perspective are Common Sense. When you are wondering about the care and surrounding of what your mantis may need, always remember to think about the conditions our Great Maker placed them in. A good ideal is to find out where the mantis species originated from. When you find out the country they live in, then you can easily find out the weather conditions they thrive in. Mostly they survive in the same conditions we do, we need water and food, they also need water and food. We need night and day and they need night and day. We need a safe shelter and they do to. So when you are considering what you will set up for them, just think about their life outdoors and what conditions present themselves therein. If you do this whatever you decide will be right. There is no one perfect housing condition. One will work just as well as another. If you find that what you have is not just right, do not be afraid to change it. As long as you follow the requirements I have outlined for you, you will do great !
The praying mantis female lays an egg pouch called an Ootheca. For people in the hobby they have shortened the name to Ooth! The Ooth is a foam or spongy type protein material that protects the eggs until hatching time. Depending on the species of mantis, Oothecas come in different sizes and colors, some require longer incubation periods than others. Some need a cold period called Diapause. This is where the egg development is suspended for a time until the weather is right for the nymphs survival. Some species lay any where from 10 to 400 nymphs. Nymphs are what the young mantis are called.
Taking care of the Ootheca is easy, just attach the Ooth to a twig or lid of the enclosure you are going to hatch it in. To attach it use a low heat glue gun with a small amount of glue. Glue the side that does not have the zipper look to it. This zipper runs from the top to bottom and is where the nymphs will emerge. A good rule of thumb is to look closely at the ooth, you can usually tell the front from the back by looking for where the female laid it. Not all ooths will have a zipper look to the front side, some will have a thread like piece hanging from it and others have a different color as in the Carolina, running down the middle of it. As outlined before, find out all you can about the species you intend to raise and ask the supplier if you are unsure how to attach it. Mantis Place.com will attach any ooth to a cloth lid upon request, most are attached already to a cloth lid and sent in an insect cup.
Place a small amount of excelsior in the bottom of the container for the nymphs to hang onto once they hatch.
Spray or mist the Ooth with warm water every few days. It is important for the eggs to have moisture just like they would outside. The Ooth will also need air, do not put it in a container that is not ventilated. This will cause mold to develop and will destroy the eggs inside the Ooth. Mantis Place has cloth covered lids that are ideal for Ooth incubating. They let in air, while keeping baby nymphs inside and their feeder food too. Keep the Ooth in a warm spot, on top of the TV, refrigerator or even near the back of your computer, just remember the warmer an ooth is kept the more times you will need to mist it. The Ooth does not need any extra light. Whatever light is in the room is fine.
In approximately 4 to 24 weeks most Ooths will hatch. Some exotic species take longer.
Sometimes people worry when an ooth does not hatch when they expect it to. They may be afraid that it is not fertile. A lot of them will slice open the ooth to see if the eggs are inside it. Sure enough they are. A note of caution here, This is not a good practice, the only reason to open an ooth is to see if it has already been hatched. If it has hatched already there will be no eggs inside, and this should only be done when the time for hatching for the ooth species has elapsed. There may be brown eggs inside too, they will stink if you smell them and this means that the eggs were probably not fertilized and that they just rotted. A female Mantis will produce eggs and lay her ootheca whether fertilized or not. This is her purpose and this she will do with or with out a mate. So to open an ooth to see if there are eggs inside is a futile exercise.
Nymph Care, Feeding, Housing
After 12 hours mist the nymphs with warm water. I like to use Distilled water for my mantis, as most tap water has chlorine and fluoride added to it. The chlorine will dry them out and they do not have teeth, so they do not need the fluoride. It is a good idea to mist them every 12 hours during their first 2 weeks of life, there after once a day for most species. Be sure to find out the conditions the species you decide to raise need. You can just type their origin into google or some other search engine to check on that areas climate. Duplicating their climate will ensure a better enviroment for your pets. Some need more heat than others and some need more water than others, please remember that all living creatures need water at some time or other. If you are unsure, just spray the enclosure near the mantis and if it is thirsty it will drink. Some people use sphagnum moss for extra moisture in their enclosures and some people use our humidity foam.
After two days you will need to offer them some fruit flies, the Melanogaster fruit fly is sufficient for most nymphs. They will be hungry and eager to eat at this time. Do not wait for them to hatch to order your flies, as you need to have a culture producing to feed your new arrivals. After their first moult (where they shed their exoskeleton) they may be big enough to eat the larger fruit fly, the Hydei, from there they will move on to house flies and small crickets, then to larger flies called Blue Bottle and larger crickets, moths and worms.
After a week or two depending on the species you have chosen, you may have anywhere from 10 to 400 mantis. If your mantis is a species native to where you live, once it is established and has started to eat, you may release it outside if the weather is consistent with the mantis normal environment. If you plan to keep it you will need to provide a container suitable for the mantis to live in. If you have a non native species you may not release it into the environment, they must be kept inside as pets. Some people leave them together until they are reduced to a manageable size, since they will eat each other. Unless you want this to happen you will have to separate them by the time they are into their 3rd or 4th moult. Make sure the containers you choose are the proper size for the species of mantis you have selected. The proper size is three times the mantis height and at least twice their height for the width. Remember most mantis are not communial species and need to be seperated, and all mantis will eat each other if given the chance, so it is a decision you must make when deciding on how many to keep in one container.
The container you choose is important to the mantis survival, I try to simulate the natural environment it lives in. Depending on their color and environmental conditions, their container will be decorated mostly to match that. The dead leafs for example will have a lot of brown to orange and yellow leaves in it's container. While the Orchid, will have white, pink, green and light colors in it's. This is all done with silk flowers and leaves. I also like to put a branch or some tall stems from the silk flowers for the mantis to hang from. They spend a great deal of time upside down, and molting almost always is done hanging. So it is very important to have something for them to cling to while they are moulting. The container will also need some screening for air exchange. The screening should be suitable to keep the feeder food inside. Depending on the mantis food size requirements, some screening may need to be very tight weaved, while other screening can be loosely weaved.
Speaking of feeder food, if feeding crickets to your mantis make sure that they eat the crickets, crickets can and will eat the mantis if you are not careful. If you have other insects do not be afraid to offer it to the mantis. They eat a variety of insects and supplementing their diet is entertainment for you and good for them. They like moths, bees, yellow jackets, grasshoppers, katydids, dragonflies & damselflies plus many other insects. One note, some insects like the crickets eat other insects and this could be a danger to the mantis, such as the dragonfly and damselfly. So check on insects you plan to feed your mantis if you are unfamiliar with what they eat. Also HiMantis Place offers a honey/pollen powder to coat your feeder food in for optional nutrition, and food for your crickets and flies.
Here's something that is fun to do with your mantis, Take a toothpick and put a drop of honey on the end of it. Have your mantis on your hand and slowly bring up the toothpick underneath the mantis mouth (this way it won't get scared) and touch the honey end to its mouth. The mantis will love this, and different species do different things when eating honey. The Ghost for example will wiggle it's butt. All of them will follow the toothpick down if you wish to place the honey on your hand, there they will suck it off of you, I find this is a fun way to get the little ones interested in feeding and caring for the mantis and becoming a bug lover early on in life.
The other bit of food the mantis loves is a piece of banana. Just take a smidge of banana and smash it onto your hand or in front of them in their house. They will sniff the banana out and eat some of it. The fruit flies love it too! I like to have one every now and then myself!
Good enough to be in a circus
To teach your mantis to fly or jump from hand to hand, start with him on one of your hands, then offer the other hand just within reach of his raptor claws a little above its head. Do this a few times to get him used to jumping or flying to you (only adults with wings can fly to you). Don't tire it out, but the next day do it again, starting with the distance you did the day before, this time on the second try, move your hand a little further away. Repeat this for a couple weeks. In no time at all you will be able to amuse your family at how you taught it to come to you when you put your hand out!!!
A good beginner Mantis
For those of you that are new to Mantis keeping may be wondering what kind of mantis makes a good study of what keeping and caring for a mantis means. The one that I recommend here at MantisPlace .com is the Giant Asian or Ghost, a smaller mantis to start with if you are unsure is the miomantis. All of these species are gentle mantis and good eaters, that molt easily and will keep you interested in the hobby. They have an average life span, up to a year and will make a good pet even for the squemish!
Mantisplace.com mantis nymph care sheet.
Mantis nymphs need food and water each day, mist them once a day with a fine mister, use distilled or filter warm water. No one wants a cold shower, so warm the water bottle up. The nymphs need food that matches their age. 3 and 4th instar nymphs need 3 to 4 blue bottle flies each day or 1 1/2" cricket if they are big enough for them. If not get smaller crickets. They can have a mealworm or wax worm twice a week as a treet.
The nymph will molt around 7 times before becoming an adult. When going into a molt, they will not eat and will not want to be bothered, they will strike at the food and not catch it. Remember to remove all food when molting as it will upset them and they may not molt right.
The mantis needs a container 3 times it's height and 2 times its width. They need thinks to climb on and make sure they have a clear space to molt on.
More information can be found on my site, mantisplace.com. Look for the mantis care sheets & feeder care page.
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