Praying Mantis Egg Case – Should You Buy Them?

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Robert Pavlis

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.

Praying mantis egg case, Should you buy them?
Praying mantis egg case, Should you buy them?

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.

praying mantis on flower
Praying mantis on flower

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.

Microbe Science for Gardeners Book, by Robert Pavlis

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

praying mantis eating a fly
Praying mantis eating a fly

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jOs5VeKV3k

If this video does not play, try this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jOs5VeKV3k

References:

  1. Image of praying mantis eating a fly by Avenue; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:South_African_praying_mantis_eating_a_fly.jpg

 

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

31 thoughts on “Praying Mantis Egg Case – Should You Buy Them?”

  1. We have a serious problem with SPOTTED LANTERN FLIES. They are eating and destroying trees all over PA. I was thinking of buying some eggs to put into the garden. Do you think this will help?

    Reply
  2. This post’s old but I’m hoping for help w/some info ab the native ooths I received today.

    Also, I’m not sure how true this is (never researched it,) so pls, don’t hold me to this. I read online Carolina mantids are being “overrun” by Chinese mantids. Also, Carolina’s no’s are declining bc Chinese are larger in comparison & eating them…? I know they’re cannibalistic but I’m not sure if this’s true in the wild just bc they cross paths.
    Also, I tried researching this online w/no luck. I was hoping someone could help. Is there anyway @ all to tell if an ootheca’s hatched out or not ? Are there any visible changes in the zipper after nymphs emerge ? Even slight changes to the naked eye ? Thanks 😉

    Reply
  3. wow,alot to consider here. One question:Do we have native Mantis in the Pacific Northwest? Are eggs cases of those sold anywhere? I think the Mantis are cool,but my problem is Aphids. Mantis do not eat Aphids-too small.

    Reply
  4. Let me add that I’m not recommending releasing them every year. Maybe when you have an infestation. If it’s to late in the season, release them the next year. Because they aren’t like cattle/goat and eat continuously. They may eat once every couple of days, depending on what they catch (I suppose). I have them as pets, each in their own jar and they tend to only go after the food every other day or so. I assume this would apply to wild ones as well.

    Anyhow, if concern for bees outweigh the option…consoder ordering lady bugs and other beneficial insects that will eat pests. Mantis will eat benificials as well (obviously). So, if there are plenty of other options, the bees should be fine.

    Reply
    • Mantis devoured monarch’s and swallowtail butterflies’ eggs in my garden, and I had no butterflies! Mantis also do eat monarch’s catarpillars believe it or not. Mantis eats anything.

      Reply
  5. I ad a Japanese Beatle/Caterpillar problem…I ordered a few “cases”. Hatched them in a jar and released them on each of my plants (from tomatoes to blueberries to fruit trees). Needless to say… I had no more issues with pests and a great harvest. So, i feel they are worthy of having around.

    Reply
  6. There are no verifiable reports that mantids can or will eat humming birds or any small birds. Although mantids are large they are not the big enough to reliably attack a bird. They are more likely to become food for a bird.

    Reply

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