A praying mantis reproduces by laying eggs. These eggs are laid in batches, and are encased in a foam-like substance. The resulting egg case is known as an ootheca.
The production of a praying mantis ootheca is a thoroughly impressive feat to observe. The outer surface is produced in liquid form. It is then whipped up by the female praying mantis into a thick foam. In many ways it resembles shaving foam at this point.
Over the following hours this foam dries to form a dry but squishy outer coating to the eggs not unlike polystyrene packing beans.
This outer coating helps to protect the tiny eggs hidden inside. It provides a weather-proof jacket around the eggs, helping to keep them slightly warmer than the ambient air temperature. It also means that the eggs are gently protected within if a larger animal happens to brush against it.
Where Does a Praying Mantis Lay Its Eggs?
Praying mantis may lay their eggs almost anywhere. The ootheca are sticky when they are produced so they are typically glued to vertical surfaces away from ground level.
Examples of where praying mantis may lay their eggs include within crevices in tree bark, on garden walls and fences or within the branches of shrubs and bushes.
How Many Oothecae Does a Praying Mantis Lay?
Female praying mantis are capable of laying multiple egg cases from a single mating. Typically the first ootheca to be produced is the largest. The overall size declines with each subsequent egg case produced. It is not uncommon for mantis to lay 3-6 oothecae given the opportunity.
Can You Move a Praying Mantis Ootheca?
If you find a praying mantis egg case that is inconveniently located it is generally possible to move it. You’ll need to gently but firmly peel it away from the surface to which it is attached, however this rarely harms the eggs that are developing within.
Note, however, that the baby praying mantis hatch by dropping out of the bottom of the egg case. As a result, praying mantis egg cases shouldn’t be placed on the ground, but should instead be suspended off ground level.
It may be necessary to use a small pin to gently pierce the outer coating of the ootheca so that it can be “pinned” to a tree or shrub to hatch in the spring.
How Can You Tell If Praying Mantis Eggs are Fertile?
A female praying mantis can lay eggs whether she is fertile or not. This means that not all praying mantis eggs hatch. Unfortunately there is no easy way to tell whether the eggs are fertile or not. It is simply a matter of being patient to see if they hatch.
How Can You Tell If Praying Mantis Eggs Have Hatched?
Baby praying mantis fall out of their egg case on tiny strings. Hanging from their strings they break out of the protective membrane they have been growing within, then scamper away to avoid being eaten by their brothers and sisters.
The best way to tell whether praying mantis eggs have hatched is to look for these fine strings which can normally be seen hanging from the bottom of the ootheca.
Do Praying Mantis Eggs Hatch at the Same Time?
Most of the eggs within a single ootheca will hatch within a very short space of time. Normally the entire process is over within a matter of hours. It is not uncommon for praying mantis eggs to hatch overnight to avoid attention from potential predators.
If you find a praying mantis ootheca that has dozens of tiny ant-like baby mantis on and around it then it has almost certainly hatched within the last 12-24 hours. Soon afterwards the babies will disperse to live a largely solitary life.
Do Praying Mantis Die After Laying Eggs?
In temperate regions like the USA and Europe praying mantis normally die as the temperatures drop in the fall. A female praying mantis will continue laying eggs from the period of mating right up until cold weather claims her.
While praying mantis do eventually die after laying eggs, it is not the act of laying eggs that leads to their death but rather the worsening weather as winter sets in.
When Do Praying Mantis Eggs Hatch?
In temperate regions praying mantis eggs are generally laid in the late summer or fall, and hatch the following spring. The eggs sit outside safely through the winter months, waiting for the increase in temperatures.
Praying mantis time their eggs to hatch so that lots of other insects are also appearing. In this way they can be certain there is lots of food around to eat. A mantis that hatches in the winter will struggle to find enough food and so is unlikely to survive.
- Lava Tarantula / Theraphosinae sp. Panama / Davus sp. Panama Care Sheet - February 4, 2023
- Psalmopoeus victori / Darth Maul Tarantula Care Sheet - February 4, 2023
- Can Praying Mantis Eat Wax Worms? - February 4, 2023