Finally! I have been cultivating Praying Mantises for the past three summers in an effort to control the abundant tick population on our property and guard against Lyme Disease.
Back in 2016, when I learned that Praying Mantises thrive on eating ticks, I bought a Praying Mantis case. A single case yields approximately 400 babies. The case is stored in the refrigerator until any threat of frost has passed, then brought out and set somewhere in the house – ours is placed on our kitchen counter so we can keep an eye on it. It takes 4-5 weeks to hatch.
Each year, around Memorial Day, our case has hatched. Either my husband or I, fortunately, have been home when hatching occurred.
It’s critical that the babies be released immediately out onto bushes and plants, taking care not to let them drop to the ground where ants would make them a meal. The babies are extremely hungry, and if not released and separated, they will feast on one another.They’re really cute to see as they tumble out of the case into the plastic cup housing the case is glued to. Each baby is an exact miniature of an adult Mantis. So, after taking but a minute to admire these cute creatures and enjoy the excitement of the hatching event, out the door we fly to spread them throughout the garden areas encompassing the yard. Then, it’s wait and see. A Praying Mantis takes about two months to reach full adult size.
Well, up until this summer, we never laid eyes on a single Praying Mantis after release day.
Wondering if all 400 could possibly have perished, at the end of the first summer, I went back to the place I purchased the case to let them know I hadn’t seen a single Mantis. I was assured, They are there, hiding in the garden, blending in with the leaves and other surroundings. Ticks seemed to have lessened, I never found a tick on any of our dogs, so I bought this story. Last summer was a repeat of the previous summer. And, to ensure success that time, I had purchased two cases. Surely out of 800 baby mantises, some would survive and I would actually see one in our garden!
The third time was, indeed, the charm! At the beginning of August, while performing my daily ritual of deadheading my Daylilies, much to my surprise I spotted a magnificent electric green adult Praying Mantis.
I always carry my phone with me to the garden to photograph the day’s new lilies, so I was able to capture my siting. Then, each morning for a full week, this creature greeted me – on the same Daylily plant – seemingly tilting it’s head back and forth and looking up at me! I have a fascination with Praying Mantises dating back to childhood when my sister and I found them in the field behind our house. We held them in our hands, and carried them around a bit before placing them back in the tall grass. They were almost pet-like. I plan to do more research on these creatures. Like, why are some bright green and others brown? What has happened to them over the years? I’m told if I keep hatching them each summer, they’ll eventually start living and multiplying here on their own.