It all starts with an egg. Actually 100 – 400 eggs, that are laid by the female praying mantis in autumn before she dies when it gets cold. The eggs are securely protected and hidden in a so-called ootheca, a praying mantis egg case. This case can be around 1 inch in diameter (3cm) and will be attached to branches, twigs, or other objects that seem safe. The ootheca stays there until it gets warm in spring. That’s when the praying mantis hatch and life starts all over again.
If you were lucky enough to find an ootheca, you might have questions about how to care for these eggs. In this article, you will find all of your answers.
As a whole, praying mantis eggs are protected in a so-called ootheca. The ootheca should be kept in the same orientation as it was found. It can be stored in a container with air circulation and hung from the lid. Cooler temperatures will delay hatching while warmth will encourage hatching.
By the way, we also have a full care guide for praying mantis that you can read right here. It will tell you everything you need to know to keep your praying mantis alive and happy after it hatched.
What Month Do Praying Mantis Lay Eggs?
The female praying mantis mates as an adult and lays her eggs in a so-called ootheca to protect them. The ootheca is an egg case, laid by mantises but also cockroaches, and other related insects.
As a whole, the praying mantis lays the ootheca from late summer until early autumn, depending on the temperatures. Praying mantis egg sacks can therefore be found from late fall to early spring. In tropical regions, praying mantis mate and lay their ootheca all year long.
Where Can I Find Praying Mantis Eggs?
The goal of the praying mantis is to protect your eggs by hiding them and keeping them safe from predators and weather impacts. You will have to be very observant in order to find an ootheca.
As a whole, praying mantis eggs can be found in an ootheca. This egg case is hidden in trees, bushes, and other thin plants that are strong enough to carry the eggs. Mantis are not native everywhere, but in many parts of North America and of course, in all tropical regions, they can be found.
The egg case is usually attached to branches, twigs, stems, but also walls, fences, and everything else, that seems safe. That is where it stays until spring arrives and the baby mantis hatch.
They escape the case through an opening and are soft enough to squeeze through a tiny hole. They look a bit like tiny worms during this process.
Finding egg cases is not so easy, but once the trees lose all their leaves, they are easier to spot.
The egg cases are usually around 1 inch in diameter. That is not so big, which makes it extra hard to find them.
Female mantis produce these egg cases as adults. There can be up to 300 – 400 mantis eggs in one egg case. The amount depends on many factors such as the female mantis body conditions but also on species. Some egg cases only hold 50 eggs, others much more.
Only very few of the mantis will survive until adulthood, which makes it essential to properly protect the ootheca to preserve the next generation of praying mantis.
In many regions throughout the states, it is possible to buy praying mantis ootheca online to introduce this fascinating insect to your backyard.
Do Praying Mantis Lay Multiple Egg Cases?
Female praying mantis are capable of laying multiple oothecae after mating once. If they have the time and opportunity to do so, they can lay up to 6 oothecae. Usually, the very first ootheca is the largest one with the majority of the eggs.
Especially mantis in captivity tends to lay quite a lot of oothecae because they don´t have to worry about predators.
Can a Praying Mantis Egg Sack be Moved?
The ootheca of a praying mantis can be moved without harming the eggs. If the ootheca is firmly attached to a small twig or branch, and it seems impossible to get it off, you can cut the twig and keep the ootheca on the twig for hatching.
Make sure to remember the correct orientation of the ootheca. The nymphs (baby praying mantis) hatch through the bottom of the ootheca and the ootheca has to hang somewhere, giving the nymphs enough space to dangle out of the egg case.
Do not place the ootheca on the ground for hatching. This might kill the majority of the nymphs as they cannot make their way out of the ootheca.
How Many Praying Mantis are in an Egg Case?
A praying mantis can lay several egg cases after mating. The amount of eggs in one egg case depends on several factors. These include the body conditions of the female when she lays the eggs, as well as the number of eggs she might have already laid in previous egg cases and the species.
Some praying mantis can lay up to 400 eggs in one egg case, while other egg cases only contain a dozen praying mantis eggs.
What to do About a Praying Mantis Egg Sack?
The praying mantis egg case is around 1 inch in diameter and rectangular.
If you find one and want to watch them hatch, you can carefully remove them from whatever object or plant you found them on and place them in a container, e.g. glass or plastic jar with some holes in the lid to allow air circulation. Any kind of mesh as a lid will also do.
Make sure to remember the orientation of the ootheca. If you want the praying mantis to hatch successfully, you have to place the ootheca in the same position.
The container has to be big enough for the praying mantis to hatch. It should be higher than wide. The ootheca has foam around the eggs to protect them, so you can touch the ootheca without harming the eggs.
The baby mantis will hatch from the bottom of the ootheca and come out like little worms, dangling on almost invisible threats from the ootheca before they start moving around in the container.
This is why the container has to be high enough to allow the mantis to hatch properly.
If your pet praying mantis laid the ootheca, you should still remove it from the tank you keep her in, because an adult female praying mantis is likely to eat the baby mantis, once they hatch.
As a whole, keep the ootheca in a container with a lid with holes if you want to watch the praying mantis hatch in spring. Do not encourage hatching by placing the case somewhere warm. The praying mantis needs a warm temperature to survive and you won’t be able to release them in winter.
How to Take Care of the Ootheca?
You have now removed the ootheca and found a container that is big enough for the praying mantis to hatch. Place the ootheca on the inside of the lid or mesh, depending on what you use.
The ootheca has to be placed just like the mother mantis has placed it. You can use double-sided tape to place the ootheca but make sure that so tape is uncovered. Otherwise hatching praying mantis might get stuck on the tape and die.
Instead of tape, you can also use a needle, but make sure to pin it through the outer edge of the ootheca, where no eggs lie.
Keep the ootheca in a place that is cool enough to simulate winter or rainy season depending on the species. You can just leave it outdoors if it is cold outside, or in the refrigerator. Be sure to spray a bit of purified water on the ootheca to prevent it from drying out. You can also put some kind of wet substrate on the bottom of your containers, such as paper or cloth to keep the humidity high.
If you live in a tropical region and it’s warm outside, anyways, you can just let them hatch, whenever you want. If you don’t want them to hatch right away, or simply delay hatching for a few days, you can keep them in a refrigerator.
They will hatch within four to six weeks when you bring them indoors, so be sure to leave them in the cold until spring arrives. If they hatch, and you have to place to put them or release them in the cold outside, they will die. Therefore encouraging hatching if it’s still cold outside is not a good idea.
Once they are hatched, you can release them into your backyard.
They are carnivores and do a tremendous job of keeping the garden free from pests. This will allow you to do without any pesticide use in the future. Also, if you want to attract praying mantis, you can avoid any pesticides as praying mantis are very sensitive and will avoid any pesticides.
If you don’t want to release them or keep a few of your baby praying mantis, you should separate them after their first molt. They are carnivores and tend to kill and eat each other.
Are Praying Mantis Good for the Garden?
If you find a praying mantis egg sack in your garden and are unsure whether or not you want it there, keep in mind, that they are awesome predators when it comes to keeping a garden pest-free.
You cannot use pesticides in a place where praying mantis live, otherwise, you will kill them.
Seeing praying mantis in your backyard is not only a good omen, but it’s also very handy, as these insects eat any other insect that might not be welcome.
How Long Does it Take for a Praying Mantis Egg to Hatch?
Female praying mantis in temperate regions typically lays their eggs in late summer or autumn. The eggs take all winter long to develop and hatch in spring.
As a whole, it can take anything between a few days and 8 weeks for praying mantis eggs to hatch, depending on the temperature, the maturity level of the eggs, and the species.
They usually need about 3-8 weeks of continuous warm temperature to develop and be ready for the nymphs to hatch, depending on when the ootheca was found.
An ootheca that was found at the end of winter is obviously likely to hatch quicker than an ootheca that was found in autumn.
Meanwhile, mantis in tropical regions have no winter break and can either hatch immediately or also take several weeks depending on how “old” the ootheca was, that you found.
Do Praying Mantis Eggs Need to be Refrigerated?
Praying mantis that are native to temperate regions lay their eggs in late summer or autumn. The eggs develop in winter and these species need the diapause throughout the cold months in order to develop properly.
Praying mantis eggs that are found in temperate regions should be kept in cold temperatures to make sure that hatching is not encouraged when the ootheca is taken inside.
Encouraging hatching through warm temperatures, even if the diapause is still ongoing, can be fatal to the praying mantis eggs.
There praying mantis eggs need to be refrigerated for species that are native to temperate regions if it is still cold outside. It is essential to simulate the temperatures that they would naturally face.
For tropical regions, on the other hand, this rule does not apply. Praying mantis in these regions don’t need a diapause as they don’t naturally experience winter. These eggs don’t need to be refrigerated.
Can Praying Mantis Eggs Get Wet?
The praying mantis eggs are protected by foam. The egg case is called ootheca and makes sure, that the eggs make it through winter in temperate regions. When a female praying mantis produces the ootheca in late summer or autumn, it will face many challenging weather conditions until the eggs hatch.
As a whole, praying mantis eggs are firmly protected by the ootheca and can withstand rain and snow. As long as the ootheca is intact, it can and should get wet to make sure that the eggs don’t dry out.
If you are wondering why praying mantis eat their mates after mating, you can find the answer here.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂