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:: REARING PREYING MANTIDS


Having seen a bit of interest in mantids going on in recent months I thought that it might be of some use to share my experiences of rearing young African mantids.

A fertile female Sphodromantis will lie around half a dozen egg cases, or ootheca, during the adult phase of her life.

Each ootheca contains somewhere between 200-400 eggs, so when a case hatches be ready for a serious number of very agile offspring about 3-4mm long. They are quite fragile and will drown in water droplets, so watch the humidity and try to keep it down to a level that doesn't cause continual dripping in their housing.

The young will cannibalise so I found it best to separate a good number straight off and house them individually in plastic cups with a bit of fine net curtain secured over the top with an elastic band. Fruit flies or micro crickets are the food to feed initially. I got into a 3 day routine of feeding the mantids and then potting on the fruit fly cultures. I tried to make sure that the young mantids always had a slight surplus of food in order to ensure that they were never left hungry and thereby achieved good growth.

As the young mantids grow they shed their skin every few weeks and roughly double in size each slough. After a couple of sheds they'll take crickets up to nearly their own size. (Sphods will overcome surprisingly large food items.)

Aim to feed them enough to keep their abdomen slightly inflated; a flat abdomen is not a good sign.

Keep the cages out of direct light and as the mantids grow and shed you may find that they turn out green. Keep them in direct light and they may well go brown.

I kept my babies in their cups inside a box and then put the whole lot in a warm cupboard to try and encourage good keen growth with no disturbance. The adults I just keep at warm room temperature with no additional cage heating.

An adult female Sphod will take an adult locust or two a week, an adult male one locust a week or so. I leave food in for 24 hours and then remove any uneaten items.

As the youngsters grow you need to make sure that they have enough height in their cage in order to shed, as they shed downwards from their perch. Floor height to perch must be at least 3 times the length of the mantid