Praying Mantis Egg Sac Info: Learn About Praying Mantis In The Garden

Praying Mantis Egg Sac Info: Learn About Praying Mantis In The Garden

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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

When I was a child we used to go hunting for praying mantis egg sacs. The prehistoric looking insects had a magnetic attraction to children and we swooned with delight while watching the miniature babies erupt from the sac. Praying mantis are highly prized in the garden due to their predaceous nature against the insects that plague our plants. They are also lovely to look at and fascinating to watch in action.

What do praying mantis egg sacs look like and when do mantis egg sacs hatch? Read on to learn how to find and care for these amazing insect eggs.

Praying Mantis Egg Sac Info

Praying mantis in the garden provide a safe, biological weapon to combat the summer’s onslaught of pesky insects. They will eat almost anything, including each other, but their pest control of flies, crickets, moths and mosquitoes makes them incomparable natural assistants in the landscape.

They have a complex life cycle, which starts with cannibalistic mating and encompasses an overwintering egg period followed by a nymph stage and finally adulthood. You can find praying mantis egg sacs in much of North America, but in colder regions, you may have to resort to purchasing them for use in the garden.

Finding the sacs in your landscape should start with a little praying mantis egg sac info. When do mantis sacs hatch? These predatory insects begin to emerge from their casings as soon as temperatures warm in spring. That means you should be hunting for cases from late fall into early spring.

Females lay eggs on twigs and stems but also on walls, fences and house siding and eaves. The sacs can be difficult to spot but become more evident once trees lose their leaves. How many eggs do praying mantis lay? The relatively small insect can lay up to 300 eggs in one sac. Of these, only about one-fifth of the nymphs will survive to adulthood, which makes the protection of the egg sacs important to preserve the next generation of powerful predators.

What Do Praying Mantis Egg Sacs Look Like?

The adult female lays eggs before she dies with the first frosts. The sac is about 1 inch (3 cm.) long, rectangular with rounded edges and tan to white. The eggs are surrounded by a frothy foam which hardens into the casing. The foam is called ootheca.

If you do find one and want to watch the sac hatch, place it in a glass or plastic jar with some air holes. Once brought indoors, the warmth will ensure the insects hatch within four to six weeks if immature or immediately if the sac is found late in winter.

The nymphs will look like miniature adults and emerge with voracious appetites. Release them into the garden to begin doing their work. You should not encourage hatching and release if the outdoor temperatures are freezing or the babies will die.

Encouraging Praying Mantis in the Garden

One of the easiest things to do to encourage praying mantis in your landscape is to suspend any pesticide use. These insects are susceptible to numerous types of chemical preparations. If you don’t find praying mantis ever, the population may have been wiped out, but you can purchase egg sacs and hatch a new group of insects for your garden.

Care for newly hatched nymphs by separating them into individual vials, or they will eat each other. Place a moist cotton ball in each container and feed them with fruit flies or aphids. Keeping mantis babies until release in spring can be a time-consuming task, so it is best to order the casings in late winter and hatch them for spring release.

You may also choose to refrigerate egg casings for a month to prevent hatching and then gradually warm up the sac for a warm season release.

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Last week while sauntering (Thoreau style) along a reforested part of Howard County, my eye was attracted to a very small tan blob attached to a small branch of a tree. It took me a few moments to realize this stiff, foamy mass was an egg sac. In fact is was a praying mantis egg sac and could contain up to 300 eggs. I tried to remember when they are created and when do they hatch. I wasn’t sure. I placed the sac in my jacket pocket planning on giving it to my grandchildren later that day (pre-lockdown). Might be fun I thought.

Sure enough we all took a walk later in the day and at one point I put my hand into my pocket and remembered my plan. The 5 year old certainly knew what a mantis was from last summer – but was fuzzy about how the two related. But she was excited and promised to take it home and watch it hatch – assuming it was still viable. Several days later my daughter say the sac and put it into a pint jar with a fine mesh lid.

The very next morning everything changed. The jar was full of mini mantises. She had put it in a jar just in the nick of time, they were streaming out of the egg sac, and just kept coming. I quickly got a call and via FaceTime got to enjoy the excitement. “What do they eat grandpa? We’ve got to feed them now.” We guessed that we needed to capture some of the bugs that were starting to swarm on the porch. It quickly turned into a neighborhood quest – plenty of babies to go around even with turning dozens lose for keeping the gardens free of more harmful pests throughout the summer.

Turned out this was a blessing for all the neighbors – a little excitement during a period of corona lockdown. Great opportunity for community and solo research without leaving one’s own backyard.

How many praying mantis are in one egg sack?

This is answered comprehensively here. Consequently, how many egg sacs can a praying mantis lay?

Similarly, can you move a praying mantis egg sack? A: Just use a razor knife to carefully cut the egg case from the wheelbarrow handle. Use thread to tie it to a branch of a dogwood or redbud. If you don't damage it too much, mantis babies will emerge in spring, never knowing they were transplanted.

what do you do with a praying mantis egg sack?

Praying mantids can also be kept as pets, and are easy to keep. Typically, praying mantis egg cases will hatch within 3-10 weeks. If you wish to delay hatching, simply keep the egg case in a refrigerator in a non-airtight container, then remove it 1-2 months before you want it to hatch.

What is a praying mantis egg sack called?

Hatching mantis eggs. The eggs of a mantis are enclosed in a foamy pouch called an ootheca or egg sack. When the female produces the ootheca it is soft, but very quickly it will dry to become firm en tough. The ootheca protects the eggs until they hatch.

How They Find Food

A praying mantis sits, quietly camouflaged in its surroundings, until insects land nearby. While waiting for the next meal, a mantis holds its front "arms" up in a position quite peculiar for an insect, hence the moniker praying mantis.

When resting on branches or leaves, the praying mantis blends in extremely well with its surroundings, making it hard for predators or prey to spot it. It even has the ability to change its color slightly. The mantis also has an excellent sense of sight, able to notice even the slightest movements 60 feet away. Once a praying mantis catches an insect, it holds its prey with barbed forearms that help prevent the food from escaping.


He is soooooooooooooo CUTE. *Squeesss*

I just recieved as an amazing GIFT OVER 50 RELEASED INTO MY YARD TODAY
MAY 29TH 2020
I WILL SHARE PHOTOS OR Check out my Facebook page Kerry Martinson
I have a huge yard small green house and POND Lots of small bugs spiders aphids yummy yummy..
They like BASIL I heard.
Advise info PLEASE..

Photos from this afternoon releasing of 50 or more Baby / young #PeachlandBC
Praying Mantis

Thank you so much for this info. I was worried I don't like live bugs and i am on a budget also i have health problems. I am a Gardener I save butterfly and mantises and lady bugs, Me and my kids love nature. I very much appriteate this Now our summer will be enjoyable.

does anyone know how to tell if a praying mantis in a egg case is alive or dead

the paler the color the more dead it is

I would like to know this as well.

wow thank you so much i am adopting a baby praying mantis from my class this info really helped

For the student who said he's skeptical because mantises brains are so small, consider this: their brains are not small relative to the size of their body. If that were true, our brains could probably be considered "small." Give credit where credit is due and, have some respect for the expert who is kindly and patiently responding to your "naivete." While it's fine to question, you should also have some respect for peoples' expertise and the for their life experience.

PLEASE RESPOND ASAP!! My daughter got two egg cases as a little project to do, but we only got a few fruit flies and there's around 150! Do they need to eat the moment they are hatched? Or could they wait a day or two? She's extremely worried they won't last the night without any food, since we can't release them til tomorrow. Thank you!!

You'll want to know that just like keeping a wild bird as a pet, if you only feed the mantids the raw meat from a string, there's a good chance that when released to the wild, they won't do well fending for themselves. (They will, however, be much more apt to adapt due to instinct.) More importantly, the Chitin that all insect exoskeletons are made of is in very small amounts in beef. In fact, if you ever gave your dog something called "Program" to get rid of fleas, all Program does is flush the Chitin out of his system. When the fleas lay their eggs, they can't hatch. Insects absolutely NEED Chitin, and mammals do not. I would strongly recommend adding any kind of insect to their diets. Far better than hung hamburger is hung pieces of nightcrawler (bait store) and as they get older and larger, start putting live mealworms and crickets in with them. This will both teach them how to hunt, as well as give them the needed nutrients to grow up healthy.

Praying mantises are insects. they don't learn to hunt it is purely instinctual. I agree with the chitin statement though.

Actually, do this experiment yourself. You CAN actually "teach" an insect NOT to hunt. Take mantids from a young age, and hand-feed them until their adults, then put them in the wild. They'll die of starvation. While hunting IS instinctual, just as with any higher animal, instinct can be overridden.

Yeah it's good for them to eat live insects, but they USUALLY only eat or will strike at moving objects they identify as food. It is innately programmed, as they are insects. It is hard to override instinct in insects.

Also, I asked my Animal Behavior teacher, who has a Ph.D. in spider behavioral ecology, just to be sure and she told me that hunting in insects is, yes, innate.

And a question I have about your previous statement:
How do you know the mantids will die of starvation once you release them. Are you supposed to put radio tracking devices on them and monitor their movement?

Newp, if I had radio tracking devices that small, I'm sure I'd find a much more sinister use for them. However, when I was a kid I would often keep mantids as pets. At first, it was one or two attached to a "leash" at the end of my bed. (It was something I'd read in an old "Foxfire" book about how people hundreds of years ago would sometimes tether them near where they wanted to get rid of pests.) I became so interested in them that instead of letting them eat bugs, I started collecting bugs to hand feed them. This is a hobby I still have to this day, and in the late summer/fall I'll find a large mantid near the end of her lifespan and keep her as a pet until she dies of natural causes. My last one was named "Pearl" and she even had a neat personality. We don't give insects nearly enough credit.

At any rate, when I was a kid I would often find the ootheca (egg sacks) and hatch them indoors in a fairly large fish tank. I'd raise them on small ants and aphids (and a considerable amount of cannibalism) and eventually let them go. Occasionally I would take one as a pet from a young age, and hand feed it. After a short amount of time, it would actually learn where I preferred it to stay. It would stay in that general area and wait for me to bring its food. Literally every time I kept one for a month or two, then tried to return it to the aquarium (where the crickets, grasshoppers, and de-winged flies were dropped in to feed them) my "pet" would end up dying without eating anything, while those that had stayed in the tank having to fend for themselves survived just fine.

I wasn't intentionally doing an experiment at that point, but I did learn that you can actually "train" insects, even to the point of training them to be less likely to follow their own instinct.

When I grew up I worked with some of the world's top entomologists in Cairo Egypt (I was Army, doing medical research) and when I talked to them about my experiences as a child, they were not at all surprised. They had no problem believing that insects could, just like every other creature, be "taught" to some degree, even when that teaching went against their ingrained instinct.

This is very easy to attempt this experiment yourself. You will see that within HOURS, not days, a mantis will lose its instinctual fear of you and happily accept food from your hand without trying to attack. Do this for long enough, then try to reintroduce the mantis to the wild (or in this case, a controlled environment) and you will see that in many cases, the mantis will lose its desire to hunt for food, and will actually wait for you to feed it until it dies.

Despite the tiny brain, I think there's a lot more going on with insects and animals than we give them credit for. Our own brain is not that much different, only in scale.

Oh my goodness, your just like me! I have been into praying mantinds for 3 years and name them as well! Today I went to the nursery because my Manty laid 3 egg sacs, but never hatched, and found a baby one, actually it found me!I so love her and named her Mini Manty! Everyone calls me the "Mantid Whisperer" because they appear out of nowhere and suddenly there on my arm or leg !!

I find them fascinating and wish I was an entomologist. I can't believe how many species there is! Hers my Mini Manty.

I agree totally with what you say. In fact when they realize they are not in jeopardy, I would go as far as to say a Mantid will seek you out.
They are intelligent little creatures and like human company, and will very gladly eat what you give them, and live in close proximity to you.
I often befriend a mantid (usually at the end of autumn) who wants to be indoors (it's their choice, always) living in herbaceous plants on my kitchen windowsill. They will resist being put back outdoors and if you do put them out will wait for you in the same spot, then readily get on your hand to be transported back indoors, and one I have even had make his way from outdoor plants BACK to the front door and be waiting on it. Also they love being picked up and carried around on your sleeve. They can certainly seek you out.
One female laid FOUR egg cases over time when she was living indoors with us and would attempt to reach out for your hand to get carried about the place.
We as humans should stop being so vain as to decree categorically what can and can't form bonds in the animal and insect world, and just observe more.
Thankyou Javin, for confirming for me what I had already discovered for myself.
My last Mantid for this winter has just passed away not half an hour ago, and I am glad that I had him share his last weeks with me. Bye Pat, you'll be missed.
I am sure though that come next autumn there will be another mantid who needs a home. I'll be ready.

around 2 years ago when i was at school there were these kids that were throwing a mantis at eachother and laughing saying "Oh my god it sticks that's awesome" I walk up to them and one says "watch this" and I was horrified not of the mantis but how they were treating (what with my family being very respectful of species rights) to which I responded "Well duh, if you were being thrown at something that if you didn't cling on to it you would be hurt you would do the samething" I told them to give it to me they put it in my hand and could tell this thing was terrified because it bit me of course I understood why and whe it calmed down but remained still is when my curiosity was peaked when I remembered when my mom told me that she loved the because when they would climb on her and it tickled so i rolled up my sleeve to my sweatshirt (what with it being autumn) to try and get it to walkup my arm and it looked up at me and I looked at it and it walked up my arm without me giving it a nudge or anything like it understood what I wanted and it did tickle a little, and some jerk decided to walk up behind me and it was on my shoulder he grabbed it off my shoulder crushed it and threw it on the ground i was pissed and if i weren't for the little kids coming out I would have beaten him within an inch of his life I was so worried for it so I moved it into the grass where it wouldn't get stepped on the next day I look over to where I put it and guess what's propped up against the wall the little mantis I was so releved that it was okay and so what I did was I hung out with the mantis for a while and then what I did was I took it over to the side of the school and placed it down so it could be free the next day there it was again and yes I am sure it was the same one propped up at the same spot just chillin' and when I walked near it, it climbed up to the window-sil as if to say 'Hey it's you' and it felt like it was grateful that I cared about it I got a little teary eyed so what I did was I decided I would bring it home I put my hand down next to it and sure enough it walked onto my hand and when got on the bus my bus driver gve me a look of confusion and I told her i was taking it home she didn't care as long as it didn't get loose you know from my hand and it sort of gave me look like 'please don't make me leave' the liitle kids were a little stupid cause they were like "are you gonna kill it?" to which i responded "No i am taking it home so I can take care of it" and then the same kid was like "can I kill it." and then I repeated myself an he just kept asking if he could kill it and I just kept ignoring him and I just sat by the window well away from the kid and it just sort of just watched me the whole time and i had no where to keep it so i kept it outside and it survived for like a two weeks and then somehow it got decapitated an it was a small ball shaped nub where its head would be attached completely inconsistant with if it were to have mated and by the way male mantis' die a week after fertilzation even if the female doesn't eat it.

That's actually rather interesting. Sorry if I seemed obnoxious I am rather naive. I'm still just a high school student. But when I think of insects I generally think of their behavior to be very flighty, like trying to catch a moth or crane fly. I don't have much experience with raising mantids, as I found an egg sack just a couple of days ago. When I went to collect it, there was a parasitic wasp laying its eggs inside of the sack (that was the main reason I was very interested in it).

I found a praying mantis one day while walking back to my dorm, while we were collecting insects for my independent study (we were putting together a small insect collection for our biology lab). We'd freeze the insects, we didn't use kill jars with chemicals. I carried it back on my hand because I didn't have a container for it. I have to say that it was the most interesting insect I've ever picked up. Half of the time when I catch insects they try to fly or scurry away. However, it would just crawl around on my hand and stop and just look at me for a while. It was really interesting (and rather creepy) to watch.

And yes, I agree that insects do not get enough credit, as do pretty much any other species of animal. Humans can be pretty pretentious :P. I mean we have ideas of religion that say we are the only important thing on Earth and lots of people think that we have stopped evolving and that humans are the "ideal and final species". But I can more clearly see from your story why a lot of animal behaviorists are particularly interested in insects, as my teacher is. I might try doing that experiment when I get more time in the summer.

I'm not quite sure how human and insect brains differ because I've never directly studied it. From what I can assume from reading some general information in books, magazines, or journal articles, is that insect brains are not complex enough to feel pain or to be conscious. The fact that you say you can "train" or condition them to lose their instinctual urges is really interesting, though. For me, it brings into question how learning and conditioning works in any animal.

However, I think that it's kind of difficult for us (humans) to be completely correct and unbiased because we are just very evolved creatures. Our brains (and consciousness) often trick us. I'm just not quite sure how accurate a lot of our assumptions and interpretations are when it comes to these things. Maybe I'm just over-thinking it.

No worries! You didn't sound obnoxious at all. You sounded like someone who was given conflicting information by an expert in the field. Nothing obnoxious about that. Research is a great thing!

With the mantis, it's really easy for me to anthromorphisize because of the way they'll actually turn their head to look at you. I've always thought that made them seem more intelligent. Once they get to trust you, they'll even be very gentle about taking insects from you.

I've got some pictures of "Pearl" around here somewhere. She was my favorite so far. I actually kept her in my office cubicle at work where she would stay on top of my monitor waiting for her food. She was there for almost six months, well into winter, before she finally died of old age. I even had other people at work going out and collecting insects so they could come and feed her. For all I know she died of obesity and diabetes. :D

Before going into the veterinary field I thought very much as others do. That animals are lesser evolved and don't have the same range of emotions that we humans do. It's very easy to believe this because it strokes our ego. Then I saw a film about "Koko" the gorilla that learned to speak sign language. The easy answer there was, "Oh, she's just repeating motions she's learned to get a treat." Until she started making up her own words for things that her trainers hadn't given her words for. For instance, she called turkey "christmas bird". This shows an incredibly complex thought process. She associated the food with a time of the year, showing that she actually understood the concept of differing times of the year, and then to make up a word because she wasn't given one just floored me. This got me to rethinking what I "knew" about animals.

It's not a far stretch then to question the lower species, dogs and cats for example. You begin to see things that you just can't explain through instinct. Dolphins saving drowning victims, showing an understanding of what the very concept of "drowning" means. Dogs running into burning buildings to save children that aren't part of their "pack". Wild animals learning to use primitive tools out of the blue, such as the herons that have observed people feeding fish pieces of bread, and eventually learned to pick up some of the bread themselves and instead of eating it, fly off and dip it into the water to use as "bait" to catch fish. Instinct simply can't explain this, which only leaves higher brain functions that we don't give them credit for.

Is it such a stretch to think that perhaps even an insect is possibly smarter than just a mindless mechanical automaton running on pure instinct?

Differences Between Mantis Species:

The Chinese mantis is the largest mantis species in North America and can reach up to five inches in length. It was accidentally introduced to the United States in 1896 in Mt. Airy, Pennsylvania. This species has a slender build and varies in color from brown to green.

The European mantis was introduced as pest control for the gypsy moth. It is smaller in size than the Chinese mantis reaching about four inches in length. The European mantis is usually greener in color. They have a “bulls-eye” under the foreleg that is useful in identification. Both the Chinese and European mantises primarily feed on other insects. The large Chinese mantis has also been known to feed on small reptiles, amphibians and even the occasional small hummingbird.

Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis). Image: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, European mantis (Mantis religiosa), Image: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, The native Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina). Image: Sturgis McKeever, Georgia Southern University, The native Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) is found across North America and is particularly abundant south from New Jersey to Florida. This particular species can range in color from green to dusty brown to grey, camouflaging into their surroundings. The Carolina mantis is a smaller mantis species, reaching only about three inches in length. If you see a mantis in your garden unfortunately, more than likely it is a non-native invasive species. Their populations are thriving in comparison to the Carolina mantises who aren’t able to compete with these larger more powerful species.

Carolina mantis ootheca. Image: Lacy L. Hyche, Auburn University, European mantis ootheca. Image: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Similar coloring and markings make it difficult to tell mantis species apart. One identifying factor is to look for their egg cases, called ootheca, in your yard. The female mantis will lay her eggs in late summer to early fall. She covers her eggs with a foamy substance, which hardens similar to the texture of Styrofoam, becoming the ootheca. Depending on the species, an egg mass can contain hundreds of eggs, although only a small portion of these nymphs will survive into adulthood. From November to early May, you can spot the ootheca attached to twigs and stems or even on fence posts, siding or your fresh cut Christmas tree.

Chinese mantis oothecal. Image: Kevin Fryberger, Natural Resource Manager, Brandywine Conservancy. The ootheca of the native Carolina mantis is elongated and slender. It is relatively smooth and has a sequence of lighter and darker brown stripes. The Chinese mantis oothecae are much puffier. It is a round to cube shape with a foamy texture. It is one solid color of straw brown and probably the most commonly sighted in our area. The oothecae of the European mantis and the Carolina mantis are similar in shape. They are elongated but not as flattened or smooth in texture. The major difference is in color. The European mantis oothecae are solid pale brown, no striping.

Recommended Action:

The invasive Chinese and European mantis may consume pests, but they also consume a large number of beneficial pollinators and other native insects including the Carolina mantis. In order to keep populations in check, it is recommend to destroy the egg cases of the Chinese and European species before they hatch. The egg masses can be crushed or cut open and submerged in water. Mantis oothecae also make a tasty snack for chickens and pet reptiles such as lizards and snakes. If you find the ootheca of the native Carolina mantis, do not disturb the egg mass. While we may not recognize these invaders as an overwhelming issue just yet, prevention is key to keeping these species at bay and allowing our natives to thrive.

Watch the video: Praying Mantis life cycle


  1. Frascuelo

    Actually, it will be soon

  2. Nikorr

    What words ... the phenomenal idea, admirable

  3. Agymah

    everything is needed, the good old the more

  4. Attmore

    I am sorry, it does not approach me. Who else, what can prompt?

  5. Suthleah

    Excuse, that I interfere, but I suggest to go another by.

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