Like other insects, praying mantis benefit from a tough exoskeleton which limits the loss of water. Even so praying mantis need to drink water regularly.
In the wild praying mantis drink water droplets left on plants after summer rain or dew. They may even try to drink from small puddles or from water trapped at the base of leaves.
When it comes to pet praying mantis we need to try and replicate this same experience by using a houseplant mister to gently mist the inside of the cage on a regular basis. The praying mantis can then drink this water before the droplets evaporate into the air.
How Long Can Praying Mantis Go Without Water?
While a praying mantis can last for some weeks without water in some situations it is impossible to provide any hard-and-fast rules. This is because there are a host of different factors that can affect how quickly a praying mantis becomes dehydrated.
A hot, dry environment will dry out a praying mantis much faster than a cooler or more humid environment.
Praying mantis may get some moisture from their prey, so the types of prey they’ve been eating can also affect how long a praying mantis can go without water.
Additionally, while it is important for praying mantids to remain hydrated at all times, this is particularly important during specific periods of their lives. For example, it is crucial that a praying mantis that is coming up to shed its skin is allowed to drink enough water.
Egg laying can also involve the use of water. The foamy outer-coating of the egg case comes out as a liquid which is then whisked up into a froth by the female mantis. Once again, the female must have drunk enough water recently if she is to produce this foam in the volumes required.
Perhaps asking how long a praying mantis can go without water is therefore the wrong question. Instead of hoping a praying mantis will survive long periods of time without drinking water, we should instead consider how often you should provide water for your pet praying mantis to drink.
How Often Should You Give a Mantis Water?
The easiest way to give drinking water to a praying mantis is by gently misting the inside of their cage with a houseplant spray gun.
Between mistings the cage should be allowed to dry out, to prevent the build-up of fungi, bacteria or mould. This means that good ventilation is equally important. Praying mantis die in stale conditions.
How often you give your praying mantis water will depend to a degree on how long it takes the cage to properly dry out between applications. Cages kept in warmer conditions, and with better ventilation, are likely to dry out quicker than those kept cooler.
As a good rule of thumb aim to lightly mist your praying mantis cage once or twice a week.
When misting, the aim is not to soak the cage. Instead, a light misting, paying particular attention to the sides of the cage works well. The end result should be a fine spray of water droplets on the side, and on any plant matter you have included in the cage.
After such a spraying it is not unusual to see your praying mantis gently drinking from these droplets.
A praying mantis may even drink water droplets off it’s own body, lifting its front legs up to its mouth, if any of the mist has landed on the insect itself.
Do Baby Praying Mantis Drink Water?
Baby praying mantis do drink water. In fact, baby praying mantis are more likely to become dehydrated than larger, bulkier mantis. It is therefore fair to say that drinking water is even more important to baby praying mantis than it is for adults.
When it comes to pet praying mantis, great care should be taken when giving drinking water to baby mantids. The reason is that tiny mantis can get stuck in water droplets and may die as a result.
You therefore need to balance the provision of water with the safety of your mantis.
It can be a smart idea to provide water far more frequently to baby mantis, but to only offer a very light misting each time. This should minimize any large water droplets that can trap a baby mantis.
Sometimes a slight reduction in ventilation can be handy for really tiny mantis, which subsequently helps to create a slightly more humid environment, and therefore reduces the risk of dehydration.
Do Praying Mantis Get Water From their Diet?
Predatory insects like praying mantis are capable of absorbing some moisture from their food. Rather like you tucking into a juicy piece of fruit there is some moisture to be had there. Indeed, some people have found that their pet praying mantis will “eat” small pieces of fruit, though it seems likely this is more due to the moisture content than their love of vegan diets.
The moisture content of a praying mantid’s food will also differ depending on what animal they’re eating, and what that animal itself has been eating recently. This is why some exotic pet keepers opt to “gut load” feeder insects with citrus fruits and bug gels. The intention is that the prey item then contains more moisture for the mantis to benefit from when it is eaten.
Generally speaking, therefore, while praying mantis can meet some of their needs for water from their prey, this is unlikely to completely meet their needs. A regular misting is therefore advised for all pet praying mantis.
What Happens If a Praying Mantis Can’t Drink Water?
Unlike some other pet invertebrates like tarantulas, there are very few signs that a praying mantis is dehydrated. This is part of the problem – you can’t easily tell if your mantis is dying of thirst.
Unlike tarantulas you won’t see a dehydrated praying mantis curl up it’s legs under its body, for example. Just one morning you’ll peer into your praying mantis cage to find it dead on the floor. This obviously isn’t a nice experience for anyone. And even when you find a dead mantis you still can’t be 100% certain that a lack of moisture was the issue.
It is best to be safe with pet praying mantis. Provide them with water once or twice a week throughout their lives and you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing that your mantis won’t be suffering from dehydration any time soon.