If you’ve ever bred praying mantis then you’ll no doubt have seen their egg cases or oothecae as they’re often referred to.
Female praying mantis lay numerous eggs together in one single neat little package, then produce a “shaving-foam” type of substance which they cover the eggs in. After a short while this “foam” dries to the consistency of polystyrene packing material.
The end result in a tidy mass of eggs covered all over by a thick material which helps to protect the eggs from extremes of temperature as well as from physical damage.
These oothecae really need to be removed from your praying mantis cage after being laid to enable you to more accurately incubate the eggs and rear the youngsters. The problem is that female praying mantis glue these egg cases in place so some skill is required when it comes to removing praying mantis eggs from the cage.
Whilst it is possible to peel praying mantis eggs off the side of whatever glass or plastic container you’re keeping them in there is always a risk that you will damage the eggs in the process because they will be stuck on firmly and it will require quite some effort to dislodge them.
As a result there are two better ways worth knowing of separating the adult female praying mantis from her eggs without risking any damage to the ootheca itself.
The first method involves giving up on removing praying mantis eggs themselves and instead removing the female. Once the female has matured and has been mated, invest in a number of cages of a suitable size. A female will normally lay a number of egg cases after just a single mating though they may not all be fertile and they will typically reduce in size with each successive laying.
However in this way one can wait till a female mantis lays eggs and then move her into the next cage you have ready and so on. Over time you will end up with a number of cages empty apart from an ootheca which you can then care for properly.
The alternative method of removing praying mantis eggs is to deliberately place objects in the cage that can be removed, but which will hopefully encourage the female mantis to lay eggs on them. For example it can be a smart idea to place an assortment of twigs and branches into the female’s cage – not just for her to rest on – but additionally she is quite likely to lay eggs on them.
One could even go a step further and modify cheap plastic containers like ice cream tubs as homes for adult praying mantis so that even if they stick their eggs to the wall of the “cage” it is easy to cut round the egg case with a pair of scissors and remove it to a suitable incubation area before placing the adult female into a new container.