Much to my surprise-and delight-my Praying Mantis case that I’ve been hovering over the past six weeks, finally hatched! I had just about given up. May 29th marked the final day of the 4-6 week period. My friend Patti, who had taken up the experiment with me, had bought two mantis cases, to be on the safe side. Surely, if one failed (as the directions warn), the other would hatch. Well, both of Patti’s praying mantis cases hatched, two days apart. This happening for her 5 weeks post refrigerator removal.
As of May 29th, my praying mantis case looked just as it had the day I purchased it. I was a bit discouraged. I’d followed the directions to the letter. I was sorry that I hadn’t bought a second case, as I had originally intended. When making the purchase back in March, I was thinking optimistically… if one case can yield 100-400 praying mantises, that would be more than enough to handle our yard. With two cases hatching, I had visions of an infestation of mantises, crawling everywhere and coming inside our old farmhouse. They’re kind of big (growing as much as 4-5 inches) to have that happening!
Anyway, on May 29th, I began to think I’d just have to try again next year. Or, maybe if Patti gets inundated by 600-800 of these creatures, she’ll let me have a few. I figured I’d wait one more week before releasing the case into to nature and recycling the two plastic cups it had been housed in all these months. On Memorial Day morning, I gave the case it’s usual examination. Nothing. Then, about 11:00 am, I was running water in the kitchen sink to fill the coffee pot and my eye happened to glance in the direction of the experiment kept on the counter close by. I stopped the water, put down the coffee pot….. something was different about those cups… at the bottom, it looked like a pile of sawdust. On closer examination, I saw that the pile was moving, and bits of things started moving along the sides of the cup and covering the case. It was happening before my very eyes! Hundreds of baby praying mantises were hatching and covering the interior of the plastic cup! I was wildly excited!
Remembering the directions stated that the newly hatched babies must be released outside asap because they are hungry when born and would start to eat each other, I ran outside, King, Lily, and Annie trailing behind me. As they watched from the screened porch, I carefully sprinkled the baby mantises on bushes, and high-growing plants, taking care to separate them, and not let any slip to the ground. Ants love to eat them, I’ve read.
So – they’re out. My experiment continues! According to my directions, young mantises will grow full size in about 3 months. I have lots of ticks for them to feast on! Progress reports will be forthcoming.