Praying mantis can eat wax worms. They’re fat, juicy and usually very well received. While they’re not my number one recommended prey item, I believe they can represent a useful addition to your mantid’s diet.
Benefits of Wax Worms for Praying Mantis
Possibly my favorite thing about wax worms is that they normally stay fresh and healthy for several weeks after purchase.
I like to try to keep at least one tub of wax worms at home at all times because they’re a great “backup” if other food sources run out. This is especially so in winter, when some feeder insects won’t reproduce as quickly, and deliveries of ordered insects can be negatively affected by cold weather.
So I always ensure I’ve got some ready for an emergency. Luckily, wax worms largely take care of themselves. It’s not like crickets or roaches, which will require regular feeding and watering to keep them going. Just pop the tub someone moderately warm and let them do their thing.
Eventually they’ll pupate, but this is normally some weeks away from purchase.
Drawbacks of Wax Worms for Praying Mantis
While I personally love wax worms as a food source, I’m aware there are some downsides.
They Make Some People Squirm
First and foremost, wax worms basically look like oversized maggots. Hardly the sort of thing that most people find appealing. If they make your skin crawl then I fully understand why you might not want to use them. But rest assured that picking them up with forceps is a lot more pleasant than using your fingers.
They Don’t Climb or Fly
Praying mantis tend to rest off the ground, high up in their tank. Therefore feeder insects that naturally move upwards have particular appeal. Wax worms, in contrast, are more likely to stay on the ground, or to even try and burrow into the substrate. They may therefore not have the same appeal for your mantis of, say, a fly or a locust.
Only Suitable For Larger Mantis
Clearly hatchling mantis are far too small to eat a wax worm, so these are a prey item best reserved for larger specimens.
How to Feed Wax Worms to a Praying Mantis
There are two recommended ways to feed wax worms to your praying mantis. Both try to avoid the potential downsides of wax worms for mantis, while encouraging your pet to eat them.
Provide in a Bowl
The first option is to place the wax worms into a shallow bowl or dish. This reduces the chances of them being able to burrow into the substrate and out of view. Even then, given enough time, most wax worms will manage to scale the sides of most food bowls.
Additionally, some praying mantis don’t like to come down to the ground to feed. If you put a bowl of wax worms in with your mantis but it doesn’t come down then there is a solution. It is possible to purchase food bowls with suction cups for animals like crested geckos. These let you provide a bowl but much higher up the side of the cage.
Hand Feed with Forceps
The other option, and my personal preference, is to use forceps to hand feed wax worms to your mantis. While there is more of a time commitment to this method, it should still only take a few minutes if your mantis is hungry.
Pleasingly, wax worms are quite “wriggly” when gripped with forceps, so they move around enough to catch the attention of most mantis.
Can Praying Mantis Eat Wax Worm Pupa?
Wax worm pupae generally aren’t fed to praying mantis. There’s nothing inherently bad about the pupae; it’s more that they don’t move around at all so don’t tend to appeal to praying mantis. They’re also dry and chalky, instead of being moist and juicy like the worms.
Can Praying Mantis Eat Wax Worm Moths?
Praying mantis can eat wax worm moths. If you have a tub of wax worms that is starting to pupate, you can gather these pupa into a small bowl or food dish, and place this inside your mantis cage. As the moths hatch in the coming weeks they’ll flutter and climb about in the cage, and can be easily picked off by your mantis.
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