Praying mantis egg cases are now being sold in many locations. The eggs are easy to hatch allowing you to add this natural pest control system to your garden.
Are these native praying mantis? Do they stay in your garden? Are they a good option for controlling pests in your garden? Before buying a praying mantis egg case read this post and get the facts.
What is a Praying Mantis Egg Case?
Praying mantis are really interesting large insects that are experts in camouflage, so you might have more in your garden than you realize. They sit with their front legs clutched as if praying, but they should really be called Preying Mantis because they are excellent hunters of insects.
Many nurseries and mail order sources now provide mantis egg cases, which is the way they overwinter. As the weather warms in spring, the eggs hatch into baby mantises which look just like the adults.
At this stage of their life, it is important that the young are separated, because in a couple of days they start eating each other. It is quite common that many hatchlings don’t make it past this stage.
Are the Praying Mantis Native Species?
Egg cases (oothecae) of several mantis species are commercially available but the majority are Tenodera sinensis, the Chinese mantis. This species is not native to North America or Europe; however, it has now become naturalized in most regions, so releasing this non-native is no longer a concern.
Should you Buy Praying Mantis Egg Cases
Is it a good idea to release this predator in your garden? Probably not.
The praying mantis is an indiscriminate predator that will eat just as many bees and butterflies as pests. Except in special situations like greenhouses, the mantis is not great at controlling pest problems since it is most likely to eat a few of every insect in the garden.
Better Options for Controlling Pests
The best way to control pests in the garden is to grow a variety of plants that will attract both pests and beneficial insects. Nature will take over and control the pest problem for you. To make this work, you need to allow a few pests in your garden so they attract the beneficial insects. Stop spraying every time you see a bug!
Praying Mantis Catches Hummingbirds
A discussion has been going on in the comments below – can a praying mantis catch a hummingbird?
This video, and others, confirm that it is true. But it is probably a rare occurrence.
If this video does not play, try this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jOs5VeKV3k
- Image of praying mantis eating a fly by Avenue; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:South_African_praying_mantis_eating_a_fly.jpg