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
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