This "adored" insect is a general predator of most pest insects, mites, eggs, or any insect in reach. Each egg case contains approximately 200 baby mantids. Use 3 cases per 5,000 square feet or 10-100 cases per year per acre. Attract to twigs, leaves, fences, and other vegetation. Cases may also be placed in the crotch of a bush or tree. Do not place on ground, as they become easy prey for ants. Releases can begin after the last frost and continue through summer. The Praying mantis is a most interesting and enjoyable beneficial insect to have around the garden and farm. It is the only known insect that can turn its head and look over its shoulder. Mantis lie in wait for their food and when close enough, snap it up with a lightning movement of their strong forelegs. Measurements of their reflexes show they react more than 2 times quicker than houseflies. Mantis have enormous appetites, eating various aphids, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects when young. Later they will eat larger insects, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and other pest insects. These ferocious-looking praying mantises actually make great pets. Some will even eat raw meat and insects from your fingers. With plenty to eat they usually will not stray far. If handled properly they don't bite.
FOOD AND REARING:Providing food for a mantid can easily be done by trapping flies or other insects, and releasing them into the mantid's container; a wide-mouth jar covered with a net or screen on top and a twig or branch inside the jar. Insects used for food must be alive and not much bigger than the mantid. If the insect is too small, the mantid will consistently miss and be unable to grasp the prey. Mantids will eat insects dangled from tweezers, and most mantids will not except dead insects. Mantids in captivity do need additional water. Gently place a small wet sponge inside the container every week. The mantids will gather the water off the sponge.
Best results will be achieved by attaching the egg cases to a twig or a plant using a twistum or wire tie, wrap around the egg case and tie it to a branch in warm location, filtered sunlight. A hanging, swinging egg case is safer from birds and other predators. It will take about 10 to 15 days of good continue warm weather for them to hatch. When hatching the young will crawl from between the tiny flaps in the egg cases and hang from silken threads about 2" below the case. After drying out the long legged young disappear into the vegetation around the area, leaving little if any trace of their hatching. This happens within an hour or two and it is difficult to know hatching has occured unless the elusive, well camouflaged young are found. Use this valuable insect in conjunction with all other beneficial insect releases.