How to Raise Healthy Praying Mantis Nymphs
In my last blog post I went over the basic requirements needed to hatch your Chinese praying mantis ootheca. If you have followed the instructions and have a fertile ooth you will eventually come home to this.
I’ll be honest I was a little overwhelmed by the number of praying mantises that hatched. I missed them coming out of the ooth and when I saw them for the first time they were running around the jar looking for their first meal. Raising the praying mantis nymphs is not complicated or difficult it just requires a lot of time and proper preparation. In this post you will learn what you should do ahead of time to get ready for your mantis nymphs. You will also learn about feeding your praying mantis and the proper housing required to raise the nymph into an adult Chinese Praying mantis.
Chinese Praying Mantis Nymphs Just Hatched from Ooth
How many praying mantis nymphs should you raise?
If your goal is to have a few adult Chinese praying mantises to breed and keep as pets I would start with a dozen nymphs. Ideally I would try to buy some 2nd or 3rd instar nymphs because they are easier to feed and have already gone through the delicate stage of moulting a few times. Keep in mind that your mantids need to be kept individually otherwise they will eat each other. Trying to feed 100 individual baby mantises fruit flies is a chore and unless you are retired or have a lot of time on your hands I would stick with a dozen.
Feeding Praying Mantis Nymphs
Fruit flies will be the primary food for your praying mantis through it’s first three moults. After that they can be fed house flies, small dubia roaches, small crickets. I use Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies as the first food as they are a smaller species of fruit fly. You can buy fruit fly cultures on the internet and I suggest “Josh’s Frogs” as they have been in the business for along time and sell more fruit flies then anybody else. The cultures sell from $5 to $8 and last a month and then the culture dies out.
A second option would be to make yourself a fruit fly trap and collect your own fruit flies. I wanted to add this information so kids or somebody who doesn’t have the means to order feeder insects. To make the trap all you need is a empty jar, small funnel, and a piece of fruit. On a side note this same trap can be used to collect house flies for your praying mantis when it gets older. All you do is switch the bait. Instead of using fruit you place a piece of raw hamburger or fish.
DIY Fruit Fly Trap Instructions
- Need a empty pickle jar or mason jar and if a child will be helping you out I would go with a plastic jar just in case it’s dropped.
- Plastic funnel that are used for cooking or adding motor oil will work. You just want your funnel to fit into the jar so it seals the top so insects can’t escape.
- Piece of fruit of any kind. I like using bananas as they really draw in fruit flies. Use meat for house fly bait.
- Place your trap outside if the weather is nice in any location. You can even place a few in your house. Within a day or two you will have live flies.
The fruit flies you will be collecting can fly unlike the Drosophila melanogaster which are flightless. If you keep your Chinese praying mantis in a larger enclosure you could place the whole trap in the cage and remove the funnel and flies will eventually fly out. I like to keep my mantis nymphs in small containers so transferring the flies from the trap can be a challenge. A tip is to place the jar in the freezer for minute and that will slow the flies down so you can just dump then into your mantis cage. They will warm up in a minute and be back to flying. You can do the same thing with house flies.
Feeding your mantis is very exciting and you should spend some time observing your pet. It’s amazing how quick and aggressive these little nymphs are when feeding. Take your camera or phone out and take pictures and videos so you can show your friends.
Housing Chinese Mantis Nymphs
I use 32 oz deli cups to house my praying mantis and stick insect nymphs. In the deli cup I place a small piece of paper towel on the bottom and place a small branch for the mantis to climb on. The lids I use have holes in them with cloth over the holes so the flies can’t escape.
Every few days I will spray the paper towel with water to add humidity to the enclosure and also provide water for the mantis to drink. You don’t want this to be soaking wet just lightly damp. If your house is in the 70’s F your pet will be fine. I live in Minnesota and during the winter my basement gets into the low 60’s so I place the containers on top of my light fixture on my chameleon cage. I also use under tank heat mats as they are designed to raise the temperature 10-15 degrees.
Releasing Praying Mantis Nymphs In Your Garden
It’s amazing how fast the praying mantis grow. The nice thing is my garden is also benefiting from have the praying mantises eating the pest insects.
July 4th 2 months After Hatching
As you can see raising a Chinese praying mantis nymph is not complicated it just takes a few simple household items and some time. If you have questions about praying mantises or other pet insects please leave a comment below and make sure you subscribe to my newsletter.