Praying Mantises love ticks, providing a natural means of eradicating this nasty pest. Since we live in an area in western Massachusetts heavily inhabited by ticks, they are a menace to both dogs and humans, possibly causing debilitating Lyme Disease.
Some of my readers may remember my praying mantis experiment last year. After I contracted Lyme Disease four years ago, I became super-concerned about this annoying insect. When a friend told me about hatching praying mantises and spreading them around the yard to feast on the ticks, once fully grown, I immediately headed out and bought a praying mantis egg case. The experiment was on.
I almost gave up when the babies took forever to hatch. I held out… giving the dead-looking egg case and extra week to hatch. It was an exciting moment when hundreds of miniature praying mantises started hatching right in front of my eyes. As instructed, I immediately took the container outside to place the minutes-old babies on the foliage of plants and bushes. That was the last time I laid eyes on the insects.
It takes about three months for praying mantises to grow full-size (four to five inches). I had visions of seeing hundreds of these large insects all over my yard doing their good work eating the ticks.
I never saw a single one. I feared all the youngsters had perished in the extreme heat we had last summer. BUT, I never saw a single tick either. No ticks on me as I worked in the garden and no ticks on the dogs as they ran around the mowed-down hayfield in the backyard and up into the woods. Perhaps they were there, so well camouflaged, their brilliant green coloring matching that of their surroundings.
At the end of the day, their work was done. So, here we are again, spring is coming, and this year I purchased two egg cases.
Maybe I will be lucky and see one or two this summer. With a second case, I’ve increased my chances of success by approximately 300 mantises! The egg cases, glued to the bottom of a clear plastic cup (see top photo), remain in the refrigerator until April 15th or some, depending on weather conditions. You want to be certain that when the babies hatch, four to six weeks after you place them at room temperature in a safe location in your house, that there will be no chance of frost when you put them outside. For us, that means May 31st. I should be okay taking the cases out of the refrigerator on, or a week after, April 15th. I’ll keep you posted. Right now, the only thing to do is watch that we don’t tip the containers over when we load food into the refrigerator.