When Do Praying Mantis Eggs Hatch: A Guide for Nature Enthusiasts

Praying mantis eggs are a fascinating topic for anyone interested in these unique insects. You might be curious about when these eggs hatch, and what factors influence their development. In this article, we’ll explore the hatching process of praying mantis eggs and help you understand the life cycle of these fascinating creatures.

Eggs of praying mantises usually hatch in the spring season. They’re enclosed in a protective casing called an ootheca, which can contain dozens to hundreds of eggs. These oothecas provide a secure and insulated environment, helping the eggs survive through winter’s harsh conditions. When temperatures begin to rise in springtime, the eggs complete their development and tiny praying mantises emerge to start their journey in the world.

As a gardener or an insect enthusiast, it’s essential to be familiar with praying mantis egg hatching patterns. This knowledge can help you provide a suitable environment for these insects and ensure a healthy population in your garden or habitat. By keeping an eye on the season and temperature changes, you can anticipate when to expect new praying mantises to join your ecosystem.

The Praying Mantis Life Cycle

Hatching Process of the Eggs

When spring arrives, the praying mantis eggs start to hatch. Inside each egg case, numerous nymphs emerge as tiny replicas of their adult form. As they hatch, they will experience several molts, also known as instars, during their lifecycle. Each molt results in an immature nymph growing larger and shedding its exoskeleton.

For example, the Chinese praying mantid (Tenodera sinensis) hatches from a straw-colored egg case.

Adulthood

As nymphs develop, they actively search for prey, using their spiny front legs to grasp and consume them. They will molt approximately six to seven times before reaching adulthood. The process includes:

  • Hatching as an immature nymph
  • Growing and molting several times
  • Achieving reproductive maturity

At adult stage, praying mantises have wings as well as their signature front legs adapted for catching prey. Their colors change as they develop, often to a green or brown hue, helping them camouflage amongst the plants they inhabit.

Reproduction in praying mantises involves mating, which often results in the male being consumed by the female. After mating, the female will lay her eggs in a protective case and, like all mantids, die as the temperature drops in late summer or early autumn. The life cycle then begins anew as their offspring emerge from the eggs in spring, continuing the cycle of life for the praying mantis species.

Understanding the Ootheca

Formation of the Ootheca

The ootheca is a crucial part of the life cycle of praying mantises. It’s a hardened, foam-like mass that serves as an egg case, usually attached to small stems and twigs 1. When a female mantis lays her eggs, she produces a foamy substance that forms the protective ootheca, encapsulating the eggs. The ootheca dries and hardens, keeping the eggs safe from harm 2.

Here are some characteristics of the ootheca:

  • Straw-colored and foam-like
  • Contains dozens to hundreds of eggs
  • Attached to small stems and twigs

Overwintering Process

Following the formation of the ootheca in late summer or fall, it serves as an overwintering refuge for the developing mantis larvae. During this period, the eggs remain protected within the ootheca’s walls and are shielded from harsh weather conditions 3.

As the winter season ends and spring begins, the eggs inside the ootheca hatch. The larvae, or nymphs, emerge and start their journey to adulthood, growing, molting, and feeding throughout the warmer months 4. Thanks to the overwintering process, praying mantis populations continue to thrive year after year.

In summary, the ootheca plays a vital role in the life cycle of praying mantises as it provides a protective space for the eggs to develop during the overwintering process.

Environmental Factors Influencing Hatching

Role of Temperature

Temperature plays a crucial role in the hatching process of praying mantis eggs. For instance, warmer temperatures typically speed up their development, while cooler temperatures may slow it down. In many cases, the optimal temperature range for praying mantis eggs is between 75-85°F (24-29°C). However, it’s important to note that specific temperature requirements can vary depending on the mantis species, so it is essential to understand the environmental needs of your particular species.

Humidity and Ventilation Requirements

Another critical factor in the hatching process is humidity. Proper humidity levels are essential to keep the ootheca, or the egg case, from drying out. Similarly, ventilation is necessary to maintain the right balance of humidity and prevent any mold growth on the ootheca. Depending on the mantis species, humidity levels can range from around 50-80%. Here are some tips to maintain the right humidity and ventilation levels:

  • Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your praying mantis enclosure.
  • Mist the enclosure lightly with water daily to maintain appropriate humidity levels.
  • Make sure your enclosure has enough air circulation to prevent stagnant air and mold growth by providing small openings or mesh-covered vents.

By maintaining the right balance of temperature, humidity, and ventilation, you can create an ideal environment for your praying mantis eggs, increasing their chances of successfully hatching and developing into healthy nymphs.

Location and Protection of Praying Mantis Eggs

Attachment on Plants and Other Surfaces

Praying mantis eggs, or ootheca, are usually attached to various surfaces in and around your garden. These surfaces include the leaves, twigs, branches, and trees where mantids can easily find insects to eat upon hatching. Females also attach their egg cases on walls and eaves of buildings, which may provide additional shelter from the elements. For example, you might find a mantis egg case on the side of your shed or tucked away in the branches of a bush in your garden. The egg cases are light brown and about 1.5 inches wide, resembling foam insulation1.

Need for Protection

Protection of praying mantis eggs is crucial for their survival during winter months. The foamy structure of the ootheca acts as insulation, helping the eggs withstand harsh temperatures1. However, it’s still essential for you to monitor these egg cases when gardening or landscaping, as they can be easily damaged or dislodged. If you do come across an ootheca and must relocate it, carefully transfer the egg case to a sheltered area on a similar outdoor surface, like a tree branch or tucked under an eave. This gives the eggs a better chance of hatching in optimal conditions.

Dietary Requirements and Predation

From Nymphs to Adults

Praying mantis are carnivorous insects that primarily feed on other insects, often making them beneficial to have in your garden. They have voracious appetites, especially during their nymph stage. As nymphs, they feast on small prey such as aphids, fruit flies, and mosquitoes. As they grow and become adults, they can consume larger insects like flies and crickets.

Some examples of their prey during different life stages include:

  • Nymphs:
    • Aphids
    • Fruit flies
    • Mosquitoes
  • Adults:
    • Flies
    • Crickets

Adult praying mantises are also known to hunt for food during the day, using their excellent vision to spot and capture their prey.

Predators Threat to Praying Mantis

While praying mantis are skilled hunters, they also face numerous predators that threaten their survival. These include other insects, birds, and spiders. To defend themselves, praying mantis rely on their ability to camouflage, remaining motionless in their environment to avoid detection. However, they sometimes fall victim to larger predators, despite their best efforts.

Here is a comparison table of common praying mantis predators and their characteristics:

Predator Characteristics
Birds High mobility, sharp vision, prey on various insects
Spiders Stealthy hunters, strong webs to trap their prey
Other Insects Hunt or scavenge for smaller insects, including nymphs

So, while praying mantises can help reduce the population of pests in your garden, it’s important to remember that they also face their own set of challenges from predators. Providing a balanced ecosystem with plants and other beneficial insects is key to maintaining a healthy garden.

Species Specific Hatching

The Chinese Mantis Life Cycle

The life cycle of the Chinese mantis starts with the egg case, or ootheca. Inside this protective structure, dozens to hundreds of eggs spend the winter. In spring, the eggs hatch, releasing tiny nymphs.

As these nymphs grow, they shed their exoskeletons multiple times, eventually reaching adulthood. Adult Chinese mantises have large, elongate bodies and are strong predators, feeding on other insects.

Praying Mantis Species in North America

In North America, several native and introduced species of praying mantises can be found. Some of the most common mantis species include the native Carolina mantis and the introduced European mantis and Chinese mantis.

Each species has its own specific hatching pattern:

  • The Carolina mantis ootheca is long and narrow. Its eggs hatch in the spring.
  • The European mantis life cycle is similar to that of the Carolina mantis, but with a distinctively different egg case.
  • The Chinese mantis is an introduced species (as mentioned earlier), sharing some similarities in life cycle and hatching patterns with the native species.
Species Native/Introduced Egg Case Shape Hatching Time
Carolina mantis Native Long and narrow Spring
European mantis Introduced Distinctive Spring
Chinese mantis Introduced Similar to native Spring

As you can see, the praying mantis species in North America exhibit diverse hatching patterns and life cycles. Understanding their differences can help in identifying and appreciating these fascinating insects.

Artificial Praying Mantis Egg Hatching

In a Glass or Plastic Jar

To hatch praying mantis eggs artificially, you can use a simple glass or plastic jar as a container. It’s important to choose a suitable substrate to provide a stable environment for the eggs. Examples of materials you can use as a substrate include:

  • Coco coir
  • Vermiculite
  • Moss

This method allows you to monitor the development of the eggs closely. However, ensuring proper ventilation and temperature control can be challenging.

Usage of Refrigerators and Incubators

Alternatively, you can use a refrigerator or an incubator for a more controlled hatching environment. Maintaining the desired temperature and humidity is easier in a refrigerated container or an incubator, helping the eggs hatch more uniformly.

Method Pros Cons
Glass or Plastic Jar Easy to set up and monitor Temperature control can be difficult
Refrigerator/Incubator Better temperature and humidity control Requires more resources and equipment

A combination of polystyrene and substrate can be used to enhance insulation and moisture retention in both methods.

In conclusion, each of the methods mentioned above comes with its own set of pros and cons. Choosing the right method depends on the resources available to you and your level of expertise in hatching praying mantis eggs artificially.

Understanding Praying Mantis Behavior

Cannibalistic Nature After Hatching

When baby mantises hatch, their instincts drive them towards a cannibalistic behavior. In their earliest stage of life, baby praying mantis will often consume their siblings for survival. This is due to the limited resources, like food, available for them. So, don’t be surprised when you witness this intense competition among baby mantises, as it’s a natural part of their life cycle.

For example:

  • Baby mantises often engage in cannibalism soon after hatching when they don’t have other food sources.
  • Sibling cannibalism increases their chances of survival by consuming nutrients from their brothers and sisters.

Camouflage and Exoskeleton Development

As the baby praying mantises grow older, they develop an exoskeleton that provides protection from predators. This exoskeleton assists them in their unique camouflage abilities. Different species of praying mantises employ various kinds of camouflage techniques to blend into their environment and avoid detection.

Here are some key features:

  • Mantis exoskeletons are tough and sturdy, providing armor-like protection.
  • Camouflage is essential for them to hide from predators and catch their prey more efficiently.

One of the most famous examples of this adaptation is the leaf-mimicking praying mantis, which disguises itself convincingly as a leaf, both in color and structure, making it nearly invisible to unsuspecting insects.

In conclusion, understanding praying mantis behavior, such as their cannibalistic nature after hatching and their camouflage and exoskeleton development, helps you appreciate their unique role in nature.

Footnotes

  1. https://extension.umd.edu/resource/praying-mantid-mantis 2 3

  2. https://idfg.idaho.gov/sites/default/files/we_may19_mantid_web.pdf

  3. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/mantids-mantises

  4. https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/flowers-fruits-and-frass/2020-10-23-fall-finds-praying-mantis-egg-cases

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Unknown Mantis from Kenya

 

Mantis
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
January 17, 2011 1:03 am
Hi Daniel,
I found this little mantis inside my tent one evening here in the Mara (within the past 2 weeks). It was only about 3cm long (at the most)
Obviously, it has great camouflage for lichen and bark, but it stood out like a sore thumb on my khaki canvas.
Any ideas what family/genus it might be?
Signature: Zarek

Unknown Mantis

Hi Zarek,
We are posting your photo and letter and we will try to identify this pretty little Mantis.

Letter 2 – Wide Armed Mantis from Namibia

 

Namibian Mantis
Location: Central Namibia
November 25, 2011 1:53 pm
Hi Daniel, I think this is the last unknown from our 2011 trip to Namibia. It was on the steps of our bungalow at Durstenbruck Guest Farm near Windhoek.
Signature: Roger Pinkney

Wide Armed Mantis

Hi Roger,
We are posting your photo before we attempt any identification.  Many Mantids have developed excellent means of camouflage and this species is no exception.  The wings and forelegs truly resemble dried leaves.

Letter 3 – Unknown Mantis from Singapore

 

Praying Mantis ID
Hi,
This praying mantis flew into my house on my table yesterday. It is about 3cm in length. I am wondering if you might have any idea what species is this mantis or whether it is a male or female? Thanks for the help! Regards,
Siyang , Singapore

Hi Siyang,
Sadly, we were unable to learn anything about your mantis. Perhaps a mantis afficionado will write in with a species identification. Its diminutive size is somewhat distinctive.

Letter 4 – Unknown Mantis from Thailand is Hong Kong Mantid

 

Unidentified Flat Mantis
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
March 4, 2012 8:32 pm
Please help me identified this flat looking mantis. It was hidden under a leaf when I found it.
Location: Chiangmai, Thailand
Signature: Fujinliow (fujinliow.tumblr.com)

Hong Kong Mantid

Dear Fujinliow,
We believe the Mantis in your photo is immature, and it is often difficult to identify immature insects.  We haven’t the time for any research this morning, but we are posting your photo in the hopes that one of our readers might supply a response.

Letter 5 – Unknown Mantis from India

 

Subject: stick-like insect
Location: Bangalore, India
February 23, 2015 10:28 pm
I saw this insect sitting on my window when I woke up. It was on 26th June, 2014.
It has its eyes bulging out, it’s body is pretty long (about 7-10 centimetres) and has a scary mouth.
Signature: Akhil

Mantis
Mantis

Hi Akhil,
Your insect is a Mantis or Mantid, but we are not certain of the species.  Mantids are beneficial predators.

Mantis
Mantis

Hey Daniel,
Thanks for the reply.
You say it’s mantis or mantid. Well even I thought it was one. But the images on Google show that mantis have 6 legs (in which two seem like they’re praying). And also their heads are small. But this insect I saw doesn’t have that praying legs and also its head is huge. It’s mouth is like no other insect’s. It’s hard to say it’s a mantis.
Thank you,
Akhil.

Hi again Akhil,
Your images are not optimal, but take a look at the closeup image.  We believe you are mistaking the raptorial front legs with their toothed, almost serrated edges as a mouth.  The front legs are being held out in front of the head with its huge, bulging eyes.  Though your individual lacks the protuberance on top of the head that this Indian Rose Mantis pictured on the FineArtAmerica site possesses, but you can still see how the contours of the head can be partially obscured by the front legs.

Letter 6 – Unknown Mantis from Singapore

 

Subject: Strange mantis-like bug
Location: Singapore
March 19, 2016 6:09 am
Hi bugman,
I’ve recently captured a strange little bug which looks like a miniature mantis but has these 2 “tails” located at the abdomen. It has a very erratic response to flashing lights and movement around it. The bug sometimes goes even goes apeshit when either of the 2 factors come in play. I’ve tried feeding it small red ants and grapes but I think it eats ants but they could’ve escaped by the small air hole I’ve poked on the plastic lid but it has been surviving for 3 days now and I’m starting to see tiny droppings so I guess the ants were its meal. It’s just a little over 2cm in length and I’d say a rough estimate of half a cm in across. The camouflage is stone coloured with black brownish splatters. I’d really like to know the name and characteristics of this interesting little bugger as I really like to keep it as a pet!
Cheers
Zuohan
Signature: WZH

Mantis
Mantis

Dear Zuohan,
We cannot imagine that this is anything but a Mantis, though we cannot locate a similar looking image online.  The front legs on your individual do not have the typical appearance of the raptorial front legs characteristic of most Mantids, enabling them to grasp prey.  Perhaps it is just the camera angles.  We will continue to attempt to identify your Mantis to at least the genus level.

Mantis
Mantis

Hi Daniel,
thanks for the reply and your attention towards this particular matter, I know that it isn’t mantis but at first glance it looks to me as it was a mantis-like creature. Particularly due to it’s forelegs tucking in like a mantis (I don’t have much knowledge on mantises though I have seen one up close, and this struck me on first sight as one). It has been 5 days now and it’s still going strong, I’m pretty sure its surviving off the red ants I keep dropping into the air hole. I’ve observed that it sits waits for its prey to cross it instead of going for the hunt. When the red ants come across it, the creature just grasps the ant, places it in its mandibles and sort of throws it aside, but as I’m typing this, I’ve observed it has just devoured one red ant (I’m pretty sure it has as I saw it swoop it’s head downwards and the mandibles are executing a chewing motion) I can provide you guys more and maybe higher quality photos of it upon request, I maybe sending some better ones your way later during the day.
Also, I found out the two ‘tails’ are actually the ovipositor (whatever that means) and whilst typing this again I caught some “winged ants” and the creature finds them particularly edible and devours one within seconds of it crossing its path unlike the red ants which it is very picky.
Anyways hope this helps in your data matching
Cheers
Zuohan

Mantis
Mantis

We look forward to receiving additional images.  Please try to get details of the forelegs.

Update:  March 21, 2016
Hi Daniel,
please find attached to this email are photos of the bug, I’ve tried getting the best shot out of my crappy iphone 6 camera and these were the best ones I’ve chosen to send to you.
there are 4 previews of the bug together with 13 other photos attached
Cheers
Zuohan

Mantis
Mantis

Thanks for the new images Zuohan.  The front legs look more clearly raptorial in your new images.  This is a very small Mantis, but we still do not have a species for you.

Mantis
Mantis

Update:  March 22, 2016
Hi Daniel,
Oh so it really is a mantis? Wow what a petite one it is! Well the mantis recently just gave up and died (Heart breaks) about an hour ago, I can maybe send it to you guys for further analysis on it. I live in Singapore and I can cover the cost of shipping to you guys if you allow it. I’ll source for a small capsule of sorts and add silica gel to preserve it. I don’t the proper way to preserve a dead so maybe you can offer me some guidance.
Cheers
Zuohan

Thanks for the offer.  You should consider donating the dead Mantid to your local natural history museum for identification.

Letter 7 – Unknown South African Mantids Mating

 

Mantis from South AFrica
Hi there. I’ve been finding quite a few of these praying mantises in my garden, near Plettenberg Bay and would really like to find out what they are – they look similar to ghost mantises but I don’t think that is what they are.
Regards, Addi

Hi Addi,
A cursory search online did not provide an identification of your awesome mating Mantids. We will post the images and continue to research tomorrow. One of our readers might also provide the answer.

Letter 8 – Unnecessary Carnage: Preying Mantis

 

Subject:  What kind of bug is this? I was sitting on my patio at night and it flew into my screen door.
Geographic location of the bug:  Las Vegas
Date: 09/20/2021
Time: 11:59 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Would like know what it is never saw one in Las Vegas.
How you want your letter signed:  Veronica Robinson

Unnecessary Carnage of a Beneficial Preying Mantis

Dear Veronica,
The beneficial Preying Mantis in your image appears to have expired after being sprayed with insecticide, a textbook example of Unnecessary Carnage.

Letter 9 – Update

 

(04/26/2006)
My letter pertains to the Praying Mantis section and the included requested identification of the ‘Mantid From India’. The mantid is a male Gongylus gongylodes, or Wandering Violin Mantis. I came to this conclusion based on the long and pronounced antennae (much larger in males) and the long wings (cover the body and look capable of flight). Here is a link to a picture of a male: http://www.jjphoto.dk/animal_archive/gongylus_gongylodes.htm While I’m sure that positive identification is always difficult when dealing with foreign insects, enough of my friends have raised these that I feel confident that Gongylus gongylodes, is the species you’re looking for. Awesome site by the way, I visit frequently.
Ian

Letter 10 – What Decapitated the Preying Mantis???

 

Unknown winged insect
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
September 10, 2011 6:25 pm
Is this a headless something? 4 brown legs. 2 sets of wings — 1 pair bright green and 1 pair brown. Long — 3-4 inches. Looks as if something bit its head off?
Signature: Puzzled in Kalamazoo

Decapitated Preying Mantis

Dear Puzzled in Kalamazoo,
This is the second photo we are publishing in a week of a decapitated Preying Mantis.  We suspect a bird may have been responsible.

Daniel, thank you so much for identifying this so quickly, and as a praying mantis.  Your suspicion is logical, as we have many birds in our yard.  Poor guy.  Thanks again.

Letter 11 – What Decapitated the Preying Mantis???

 

Subject: Whats That Bug
Location: Michigan
October 8, 2012 3:31 pm
I work as the director at a child care facility. My staff was outside with the children and found a large bug that was missing his head. We would like to know what it is.
Signature: Jessica Fuller, Director, Learn and Play, LLC

Decapitated Preying Mantis

Hi Jessica,
We would love to know what decapitated this adult Preying Mantis.  It doesn’t seem to be a typical predator as it has left behnid the most edible and nutritious part of the mantis, the abdomen.  It would be much more typical for a predator to leave the hard head behind and eat the softer and fattier body.

We are not sure. We found the bug out on the playground and it was already decapitated. Thank you for getting back to us to quickly. The kids will be interested to know what the bug was!
Betty Dennany
Director, Learn and Play,LLC

Letter 12 – What Killed the Preying Mantis???

 

Unknown Yellow Winged Bug
Location: San Rafael, CA
September 5, 2011 4:22 pm
I found this light yellow bug lying on the patio, close to expiring. (9/2/11) It has an unusual long head, and almost antennae-like projections from the back side. Never seen anything like it. Your help in identifying would be very much appreciated. Sure do love your site. Thanks so much.
Signature: Laura M

Corpse of a Preying Mantis

Hi Laura,
This is the corpse of a Preying Mantis, and it has been decapitated.  We suspect a bird is most likely the culprit, especially if as you have written, that it was close to expiring.  If an insect is decapitated, the reflex actions might cause the body to continue to spasm.  Insect predators like Hornets or Dragonflies, or even another Mantis might also have brought about the demise of this Preying Mantis.

Thank you so much, Daniel. There are Preying Mantis around in our area, but I had never seen one at our house before. So that never came to mind. And although I thought the front looked maybe not complete, I didn’t realize the head was completely missing. I agree that a bird was likely the culprit as we have several bird feeders and many active species in the yard. I appreciate your swift and knowledgeable response!
Laura M

Letter 13 – What decapitated the male Mantis?

 

Subject:  Unusual bug near swimming pool
Geographic location of the bug:  Long Beach CA
Date: 09/23/2018
Time: 03:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there,
I was picking up leaves on concrete near our pool and I found this beautiful insect, who almost looked like another leaf or flower.
Thanks for any ideas as to his or her identity.
How you want your letter signed:  Moira

Decapitated Male Mantis

Dear Moira,
This is a decapitated Preying Mantis, and it appears to have been a male.  It might be a male European Mantis, which is pictured on BugGuide.  We can’t think of any real predators (eliminating house cats that do not generally need to hunt to survive) that would eat the head and leave the more nourishing and palatable body behind.  There is much documentary evidence of a female Mantis eating the head of a male that is mating with her.  Though his head is gone, he still goes through the mechanical actions of mating as pictured in this image from our archives of mating Mantids.

Dear bug man,
Thanks for the insight. Wow, that realization certainly ruined my Sunday, not to
mention the mantis’s. I researched how it could still be sentient. It obviously was able to think, because before I knew what it was, I thought it looked parched and dazed. So I poured a tablespoon of water into a dead leaf ‘vessel’ in front of it, and spilled the same amount onto the concrete next to where it stood, which seeped over to its right feet. It reacted by carefully moving its feet out of the water. It was as though it did need water but couldn’t drink it. Two people on Instagram then told me what it was and one of them speculated it was a post-mating male. It even seemed to have eyes, looked at from the front, but now I know otherwise. I read that mantii can survive decapitated and half-eaten for up to six days. Then I researched invertebrates ability to feel pain, concluded that they do feel pain. I went back to it and it was being eaten by ants. I moved it to another garden location, but a couple ants still clung to it. I asked my husband later if it would have been kinder to have killed it and put it out of its misery. He thought so. By then it was dark, we were walking the dog, and it would have been hard to find. If I ever come across this again, is there a humane way to assist an insect in dying? Thanks again Moira
Moira,
There is no need to feel bad about what happened to the male Mantid.  Since this happens so frequently, it must be advantageous to the survival of the species.
Thanks Mr. Marlos.
I am amazed by nature. I’ll try to stop feeling bad about this one’s curtain call. As you told me, that’s normal behavior for this species. At least its children had an advantage getting started in life.

Moira

Letter 14 – Who's that Linnaeus?

 

what is the family name for preying mantis’s (genus – i guess) this will help me win an argument!

Dear Tristian,
Let me settle your etymological query before addressing your entomological one. Thanks to Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), one of the most famous biologists that ever lived. we use a two name system to name all biological species. The first name, which is capitalized, is the genus name. The species name, which follows, is all lower case. There are many species of preying (praying) mantid (mantis), belonging to several families, but all belong to the animal Kingdom, Phyllum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Subclass Pterygota, Infraclass Neoptera, and Order Mantodea. All American species belong to the family Mantidae. There are various genus and species. Some native species include the California Mantid (Stagmomantis californica) and the Minor Ground Mantid (Litaneutria minor). Species introduced from Asia include Tenodera or Paratenodera sinensis and Mantis religiosa.

Letter 15 – Why Did the Male Preying Mantis lose his Head?

 

Subject:  Please ID bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Long Island NY
Date: 09/26/2021
Time: 08:03 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I found this bug dead on my porch in Long Island, NY.
It is about 2.5 inches long.
Would you please let me know what type of bug this is?
Thank you very much!
How you want your letter signed:  Jim H.

Headless male Mantis

Dear Jim,
This is the body of a male Mantis, and considering that it is well documented that the female will eat the head of the male as he is mating with her.  Once he has initiated the mating and, if he is decapitated, he no longer has the instinct to escape danger, the coupling will continue for hours or possibly days.  We have images of decapitated male California Mantids mating in our archives.  Here is another.  We cannot be certain that a female Mantis caused this, it is our best guess, though we would not want to discount that there was another cause, possibly a predator.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much!!!
Take care,
Jim

Letter 16 – WTB? saves Mantis

 

Preying Mantis
Hi Bugman!
I’d like to start this message by saying congratulations on a fantastic bugsite! I was searching the web for a bug I had squished in my living room (sorry, I know that makes you sad but… well… bugs give me the heebie jeebies….) Anyway on to happier things, I found your website and identified the little critter, and started looking at all the amazing bug pictures and reading all the info you had dug up about them. (In fact, I’ve spent the better part of a couple of nights doing so.) Well, tonight, we were headed inside the house, and my boyfriend said, "Hey, look at that walking stick." Now, you have to remember… I am the same person who mercilessly mushed the bug in the living room, and the same person who usually yells to him to "Come kill this please!" But after looking at all the bugs on your website, I was intrigued, so I looked. I saw him (or her) and said, "That’s not a walking stick, that’s a preying mantis!" And here comes the amazing part… instead of running inside for a fly swatter, I ran inside for my camera and took a few shots of the bug. I’ve attached one shot, not that you really need ANOTHER mantis picture, but I thought you might like to see a picture of the bug you saved 🙂
Thanks again for the great site, and I’m sure the preying mantis thanks you as well.
Jennifer from MO

Hi Jennifer,
While it is true that we might not need another Preying Mantis photo, we can never get too many letters like yours. How nice to know we have done a good thing. Also we appreciate the spelling you use on Preying Mantis, because with all the controversy regarding Creationism versus Evolutionism in schools today, we like to see a separation of Church and Science.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Unknown Mantis from Kenya

 

Mantis
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
January 17, 2011 1:03 am
Hi Daniel,
I found this little mantis inside my tent one evening here in the Mara (within the past 2 weeks). It was only about 3cm long (at the most)
Obviously, it has great camouflage for lichen and bark, but it stood out like a sore thumb on my khaki canvas.
Any ideas what family/genus it might be?
Signature: Zarek

Unknown Mantis

Hi Zarek,
We are posting your photo and letter and we will try to identify this pretty little Mantis.

Letter 2 – Wide Armed Mantis from Namibia

 

Namibian Mantis
Location: Central Namibia
November 25, 2011 1:53 pm
Hi Daniel, I think this is the last unknown from our 2011 trip to Namibia. It was on the steps of our bungalow at Durstenbruck Guest Farm near Windhoek.
Signature: Roger Pinkney

Wide Armed Mantis

Hi Roger,
We are posting your photo before we attempt any identification.  Many Mantids have developed excellent means of camouflage and this species is no exception.  The wings and forelegs truly resemble dried leaves.

Letter 3 – Unknown Mantis from Singapore

 

Praying Mantis ID
Hi,
This praying mantis flew into my house on my table yesterday. It is about 3cm in length. I am wondering if you might have any idea what species is this mantis or whether it is a male or female? Thanks for the help! Regards,
Siyang , Singapore

Hi Siyang,
Sadly, we were unable to learn anything about your mantis. Perhaps a mantis afficionado will write in with a species identification. Its diminutive size is somewhat distinctive.

Letter 4 – Unknown Mantis from Thailand is Hong Kong Mantid

 

Unidentified Flat Mantis
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
March 4, 2012 8:32 pm
Please help me identified this flat looking mantis. It was hidden under a leaf when I found it.
Location: Chiangmai, Thailand
Signature: Fujinliow (fujinliow.tumblr.com)

Hong Kong Mantid

Dear Fujinliow,
We believe the Mantis in your photo is immature, and it is often difficult to identify immature insects.  We haven’t the time for any research this morning, but we are posting your photo in the hopes that one of our readers might supply a response.

Letter 5 – Unknown Mantis from India

 

Subject: stick-like insect
Location: Bangalore, India
February 23, 2015 10:28 pm
I saw this insect sitting on my window when I woke up. It was on 26th June, 2014.
It has its eyes bulging out, it’s body is pretty long (about 7-10 centimetres) and has a scary mouth.
Signature: Akhil

Mantis
Mantis

Hi Akhil,
Your insect is a Mantis or Mantid, but we are not certain of the species.  Mantids are beneficial predators.

Mantis
Mantis

Hey Daniel,
Thanks for the reply.
You say it’s mantis or mantid. Well even I thought it was one. But the images on Google show that mantis have 6 legs (in which two seem like they’re praying). And also their heads are small. But this insect I saw doesn’t have that praying legs and also its head is huge. It’s mouth is like no other insect’s. It’s hard to say it’s a mantis.
Thank you,
Akhil.

Hi again Akhil,
Your images are not optimal, but take a look at the closeup image.  We believe you are mistaking the raptorial front legs with their toothed, almost serrated edges as a mouth.  The front legs are being held out in front of the head with its huge, bulging eyes.  Though your individual lacks the protuberance on top of the head that this Indian Rose Mantis pictured on the FineArtAmerica site possesses, but you can still see how the contours of the head can be partially obscured by the front legs.

Letter 6 – Unknown Mantis from Singapore

 

Subject: Strange mantis-like bug
Location: Singapore
March 19, 2016 6:09 am
Hi bugman,
I’ve recently captured a strange little bug which looks like a miniature mantis but has these 2 “tails” located at the abdomen. It has a very erratic response to flashing lights and movement around it. The bug sometimes goes even goes apeshit when either of the 2 factors come in play. I’ve tried feeding it small red ants and grapes but I think it eats ants but they could’ve escaped by the small air hole I’ve poked on the plastic lid but it has been surviving for 3 days now and I’m starting to see tiny droppings so I guess the ants were its meal. It’s just a little over 2cm in length and I’d say a rough estimate of half a cm in across. The camouflage is stone coloured with black brownish splatters. I’d really like to know the name and characteristics of this interesting little bugger as I really like to keep it as a pet!
Cheers
Zuohan
Signature: WZH

Mantis
Mantis

Dear Zuohan,
We cannot imagine that this is anything but a Mantis, though we cannot locate a similar looking image online.  The front legs on your individual do not have the typical appearance of the raptorial front legs characteristic of most Mantids, enabling them to grasp prey.  Perhaps it is just the camera angles.  We will continue to attempt to identify your Mantis to at least the genus level.

Mantis
Mantis

Hi Daniel,
thanks for the reply and your attention towards this particular matter, I know that it isn’t mantis but at first glance it looks to me as it was a mantis-like creature. Particularly due to it’s forelegs tucking in like a mantis (I don’t have much knowledge on mantises though I have seen one up close, and this struck me on first sight as one). It has been 5 days now and it’s still going strong, I’m pretty sure its surviving off the red ants I keep dropping into the air hole. I’ve observed that it sits waits for its prey to cross it instead of going for the hunt. When the red ants come across it, the creature just grasps the ant, places it in its mandibles and sort of throws it aside, but as I’m typing this, I’ve observed it has just devoured one red ant (I’m pretty sure it has as I saw it swoop it’s head downwards and the mandibles are executing a chewing motion) I can provide you guys more and maybe higher quality photos of it upon request, I maybe sending some better ones your way later during the day.
Also, I found out the two ‘tails’ are actually the ovipositor (whatever that means) and whilst typing this again I caught some “winged ants” and the creature finds them particularly edible and devours one within seconds of it crossing its path unlike the red ants which it is very picky.
Anyways hope this helps in your data matching
Cheers
Zuohan

Mantis
Mantis

We look forward to receiving additional images.  Please try to get details of the forelegs.

Update:  March 21, 2016
Hi Daniel,
please find attached to this email are photos of the bug, I’ve tried getting the best shot out of my crappy iphone 6 camera and these were the best ones I’ve chosen to send to you.
there are 4 previews of the bug together with 13 other photos attached
Cheers
Zuohan

Mantis
Mantis

Thanks for the new images Zuohan.  The front legs look more clearly raptorial in your new images.  This is a very small Mantis, but we still do not have a species for you.

Mantis
Mantis

Update:  March 22, 2016
Hi Daniel,
Oh so it really is a mantis? Wow what a petite one it is! Well the mantis recently just gave up and died (Heart breaks) about an hour ago, I can maybe send it to you guys for further analysis on it. I live in Singapore and I can cover the cost of shipping to you guys if you allow it. I’ll source for a small capsule of sorts and add silica gel to preserve it. I don’t the proper way to preserve a dead so maybe you can offer me some guidance.
Cheers
Zuohan

Thanks for the offer.  You should consider donating the dead Mantid to your local natural history museum for identification.

Letter 7 – Unknown South African Mantids Mating

 

Mantis from South AFrica
Hi there. I’ve been finding quite a few of these praying mantises in my garden, near Plettenberg Bay and would really like to find out what they are – they look similar to ghost mantises but I don’t think that is what they are.
Regards, Addi

Hi Addi,
A cursory search online did not provide an identification of your awesome mating Mantids. We will post the images and continue to research tomorrow. One of our readers might also provide the answer.

Letter 8 – Unnecessary Carnage: Preying Mantis

 

Subject:  What kind of bug is this? I was sitting on my patio at night and it flew into my screen door.
Geographic location of the bug:  Las Vegas
Date: 09/20/2021
Time: 11:59 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Would like know what it is never saw one in Las Vegas.
How you want your letter signed:  Veronica Robinson

Unnecessary Carnage of a Beneficial Preying Mantis

Dear Veronica,
The beneficial Preying Mantis in your image appears to have expired after being sprayed with insecticide, a textbook example of Unnecessary Carnage.

Letter 9 – Update

 

(04/26/2006)
My letter pertains to the Praying Mantis section and the included requested identification of the ‘Mantid From India’. The mantid is a male Gongylus gongylodes, or Wandering Violin Mantis. I came to this conclusion based on the long and pronounced antennae (much larger in males) and the long wings (cover the body and look capable of flight). Here is a link to a picture of a male: http://www.jjphoto.dk/animal_archive/gongylus_gongylodes.htm While I’m sure that positive identification is always difficult when dealing with foreign insects, enough of my friends have raised these that I feel confident that Gongylus gongylodes, is the species you’re looking for. Awesome site by the way, I visit frequently.
Ian

Letter 10 – What Decapitated the Preying Mantis???

 

Unknown winged insect
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
September 10, 2011 6:25 pm
Is this a headless something? 4 brown legs. 2 sets of wings — 1 pair bright green and 1 pair brown. Long — 3-4 inches. Looks as if something bit its head off?
Signature: Puzzled in Kalamazoo

Decapitated Preying Mantis

Dear Puzzled in Kalamazoo,
This is the second photo we are publishing in a week of a decapitated Preying Mantis.  We suspect a bird may have been responsible.

Daniel, thank you so much for identifying this so quickly, and as a praying mantis.  Your suspicion is logical, as we have many birds in our yard.  Poor guy.  Thanks again.

Letter 11 – What Decapitated the Preying Mantis???

 

Subject: Whats That Bug
Location: Michigan
October 8, 2012 3:31 pm
I work as the director at a child care facility. My staff was outside with the children and found a large bug that was missing his head. We would like to know what it is.
Signature: Jessica Fuller, Director, Learn and Play, LLC

Decapitated Preying Mantis

Hi Jessica,
We would love to know what decapitated this adult Preying Mantis.  It doesn’t seem to be a typical predator as it has left behnid the most edible and nutritious part of the mantis, the abdomen.  It would be much more typical for a predator to leave the hard head behind and eat the softer and fattier body.

We are not sure. We found the bug out on the playground and it was already decapitated. Thank you for getting back to us to quickly. The kids will be interested to know what the bug was!
Betty Dennany
Director, Learn and Play,LLC

Letter 12 – What Killed the Preying Mantis???

 

Unknown Yellow Winged Bug
Location: San Rafael, CA
September 5, 2011 4:22 pm
I found this light yellow bug lying on the patio, close to expiring. (9/2/11) It has an unusual long head, and almost antennae-like projections from the back side. Never seen anything like it. Your help in identifying would be very much appreciated. Sure do love your site. Thanks so much.
Signature: Laura M

Corpse of a Preying Mantis

Hi Laura,
This is the corpse of a Preying Mantis, and it has been decapitated.  We suspect a bird is most likely the culprit, especially if as you have written, that it was close to expiring.  If an insect is decapitated, the reflex actions might cause the body to continue to spasm.  Insect predators like Hornets or Dragonflies, or even another Mantis might also have brought about the demise of this Preying Mantis.

Thank you so much, Daniel. There are Preying Mantis around in our area, but I had never seen one at our house before. So that never came to mind. And although I thought the front looked maybe not complete, I didn’t realize the head was completely missing. I agree that a bird was likely the culprit as we have several bird feeders and many active species in the yard. I appreciate your swift and knowledgeable response!
Laura M

Letter 13 – What decapitated the male Mantis?

 

Subject:  Unusual bug near swimming pool
Geographic location of the bug:  Long Beach CA
Date: 09/23/2018
Time: 03:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there,
I was picking up leaves on concrete near our pool and I found this beautiful insect, who almost looked like another leaf or flower.
Thanks for any ideas as to his or her identity.
How you want your letter signed:  Moira

Decapitated Male Mantis

Dear Moira,
This is a decapitated Preying Mantis, and it appears to have been a male.  It might be a male European Mantis, which is pictured on BugGuide.  We can’t think of any real predators (eliminating house cats that do not generally need to hunt to survive) that would eat the head and leave the more nourishing and palatable body behind.  There is much documentary evidence of a female Mantis eating the head of a male that is mating with her.  Though his head is gone, he still goes through the mechanical actions of mating as pictured in this image from our archives of mating Mantids.

Dear bug man,
Thanks for the insight. Wow, that realization certainly ruined my Sunday, not to
mention the mantis’s. I researched how it could still be sentient. It obviously was able to think, because before I knew what it was, I thought it looked parched and dazed. So I poured a tablespoon of water into a dead leaf ‘vessel’ in front of it, and spilled the same amount onto the concrete next to where it stood, which seeped over to its right feet. It reacted by carefully moving its feet out of the water. It was as though it did need water but couldn’t drink it. Two people on Instagram then told me what it was and one of them speculated it was a post-mating male. It even seemed to have eyes, looked at from the front, but now I know otherwise. I read that mantii can survive decapitated and half-eaten for up to six days. Then I researched invertebrates ability to feel pain, concluded that they do feel pain. I went back to it and it was being eaten by ants. I moved it to another garden location, but a couple ants still clung to it. I asked my husband later if it would have been kinder to have killed it and put it out of its misery. He thought so. By then it was dark, we were walking the dog, and it would have been hard to find. If I ever come across this again, is there a humane way to assist an insect in dying? Thanks again Moira
Moira,
There is no need to feel bad about what happened to the male Mantid.  Since this happens so frequently, it must be advantageous to the survival of the species.
Thanks Mr. Marlos.
I am amazed by nature. I’ll try to stop feeling bad about this one’s curtain call. As you told me, that’s normal behavior for this species. At least its children had an advantage getting started in life.

Moira

Letter 14 – Who's that Linnaeus?

 

what is the family name for preying mantis’s (genus – i guess) this will help me win an argument!

Dear Tristian,
Let me settle your etymological query before addressing your entomological one. Thanks to Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), one of the most famous biologists that ever lived. we use a two name system to name all biological species. The first name, which is capitalized, is the genus name. The species name, which follows, is all lower case. There are many species of preying (praying) mantid (mantis), belonging to several families, but all belong to the animal Kingdom, Phyllum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Subclass Pterygota, Infraclass Neoptera, and Order Mantodea. All American species belong to the family Mantidae. There are various genus and species. Some native species include the California Mantid (Stagmomantis californica) and the Minor Ground Mantid (Litaneutria minor). Species introduced from Asia include Tenodera or Paratenodera sinensis and Mantis religiosa.

Letter 15 – Why Did the Male Preying Mantis lose his Head?

 

Subject:  Please ID bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Long Island NY
Date: 09/26/2021
Time: 08:03 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I found this bug dead on my porch in Long Island, NY.
It is about 2.5 inches long.
Would you please let me know what type of bug this is?
Thank you very much!
How you want your letter signed:  Jim H.

Headless male Mantis

Dear Jim,
This is the body of a male Mantis, and considering that it is well documented that the female will eat the head of the male as he is mating with her.  Once he has initiated the mating and, if he is decapitated, he no longer has the instinct to escape danger, the coupling will continue for hours or possibly days.  We have images of decapitated male California Mantids mating in our archives.  Here is another.  We cannot be certain that a female Mantis caused this, it is our best guess, though we would not want to discount that there was another cause, possibly a predator.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much!!!
Take care,
Jim

Letter 16 – WTB? saves Mantis

 

Preying Mantis
Hi Bugman!
I’d like to start this message by saying congratulations on a fantastic bugsite! I was searching the web for a bug I had squished in my living room (sorry, I know that makes you sad but… well… bugs give me the heebie jeebies….) Anyway on to happier things, I found your website and identified the little critter, and started looking at all the amazing bug pictures and reading all the info you had dug up about them. (In fact, I’ve spent the better part of a couple of nights doing so.) Well, tonight, we were headed inside the house, and my boyfriend said, "Hey, look at that walking stick." Now, you have to remember… I am the same person who mercilessly mushed the bug in the living room, and the same person who usually yells to him to "Come kill this please!" But after looking at all the bugs on your website, I was intrigued, so I looked. I saw him (or her) and said, "That’s not a walking stick, that’s a preying mantis!" And here comes the amazing part… instead of running inside for a fly swatter, I ran inside for my camera and took a few shots of the bug. I’ve attached one shot, not that you really need ANOTHER mantis picture, but I thought you might like to see a picture of the bug you saved 🙂
Thanks again for the great site, and I’m sure the preying mantis thanks you as well.
Jennifer from MO

Hi Jennifer,
While it is true that we might not need another Preying Mantis photo, we can never get too many letters like yours. How nice to know we have done a good thing. Also we appreciate the spelling you use on Preying Mantis, because with all the controversy regarding Creationism versus Evolutionism in schools today, we like to see a separation of Church and Science.

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

31 thoughts on “When Do Praying Mantis Eggs Hatch: A Guide for Nature Enthusiasts”

  1. looks like Tenodera spp.( i’ m not 100% sure though)

    male mantids have 6 segments on their abdomens. female mantids have 8 ( count starting from the babk legs)

    Reply
  2. Sinomantis (denticulata?). This species is especially notable because of an anecdote where a collected green adult turned straw-colored over the night. Not sure if any more research has been done about this.

    Reply
  3. That’s not Tenodera. And the person who talked about counting segments got it backwards. 8 segments it is a male. They are typically smaller and more slender. Females have 6 visible segments. I can’t tell you what species or sex the mantis is (or rather was). Unfortunately Southeast Asian mantids aren’t well studied.

    Experience: Entomology student at Cornell University and a mantis freak.

    P.S. I’m going to NUS for an abroad program next year! Hopefully one flies into my dorm!!!

    Reply
  4. That’s not Tenodera. And the person who talked about counting segments got it backwards. 8 segments it is a male. They are typically smaller and more slender. Females have 6 visible segments. I can’t tell you what species or sex the mantis is (or rather was). Unfortunately Southeast Asian mantids aren’t well studied.

    Experience: Entomology student at Cornell University and a mantis freak.

    P.S. I’m going to NUS for an abroad program next year! Hopefully one flies into my dorm!!!

    Reply
  5. Genus is Amantis, not sure of exact species. I caught a female specimen in Clementi before. Females have 6 visible segments and an ovipositor, while males have 8 visible segments and a visible urogenital plate. Looks like a male to me.

    Reply
  6. To the best of my knowledge, this is not sinomantis. It does, however look like a Tropidomantis. Female nymph with 2 more moults to adult. I have bred tropidomantis before. This genus is not very well described, but I am sure my ID should be accurate. It is quite hard to identify the species from the nymph.

    Reply
  7. Hi there, Babs here . I believe they are a pair of Idolomorpha Dentifrons. The I. lateralis does not have the lobes on its legs, like the I. Dentifrons.
    cheers

    Reply
  8. Hi there, Babs here . I believe they are a pair of Idolomorpha Dentifrons. The I. lateralis does not have the lobes on its legs, like the I. Dentifrons.
    cheers

    Reply
  9. I know this is a really old post, however I believe you all have overlooked a commonly known fact about preying mantises. That being that the female has a tendency to eat the male’s head after mating. Therefore, this mantis’ head was most likely devoured by his female counterpart. Hope this helps!

    Reply
    • Thanks for reminding us of the mating habits of the Preying Mantis, however, we believe that after biting off her mate’s head, the female will also make a meal of her paramour. There would be nothing to prevent the female from making a meal of her paramour who provided the ultimate sacrifice for his progeny.

      Reply
  10. Could have been a dragonfly. I often see decapitated Lasius neoniger and Vespula germanica queens hobbling around on the pavement due to the large population of dragonflies in my yard.

    Reply

Leave a Comment