Raising praying mantids
Praying mantids are carnivorous insects, and thus for the majority of species raising environments for each species must be separate. For adult praying mantids I use a insectarium of height - 30cm, and bottom - 20 cm x 20 cm, but it is possible to use a large glass jar equipped with a branch, on which the praying mantid will stay for the majority of time. The substratum bed is usually made of peat for the species preferring humid environment, and of sand for the ones preferring dry conditions. Since praying mantids shed their skin 7 - 9 times during the process of raising, and they must be hung while moulting, it is necessary to mind those facts while choosing a vivarium and first of all a branch which will be inserted into. If young praying mantids have too many branches in their vivarium, they will not always moult properly which often results in death or deformation. This is why I try to prevent this by placing only one branch in a raising vivarium so young mantids can properly moult. For the same purpose it is also possible to place a plastic net hanging from the ceiling of the vivarium. See- here
. In order to properly moult into the adult form an additional piece of net needs to be fixed to one of the walls, so after moulting, the praying mantid can turn its body head to the top and its wings can get straightened. The temperature during the raising process depends on the species of praying mantids, but most of them can be raised at about 25C. Praying mantids can be fed on various insects of appropriate size - crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches, moth larvae, whereas youngest mantids I feed with wingless fruit flies, in some cases aphids. From first to third moult, I feed praying mantids every other day, whereas adults twice a week, but in case of bigger pray less often. Vivaria are moistened according to the species. For the ones requiring humid environment I keep the substratum bed moist, but also species coming from dry areas will eagerly drink as most of water available for them is included in their food.
When we already have adult praying mantids whose sex we recognize by their wings (females of some species have very small wings) we can try breeding. We recognize males from females as in most cases males are smaller, slimmer, have longer wings and often antennae. Sex of the young can be recognized after the elements on the underside of their abdomen. A female has 6 segments on the underside of its abdomen, and respectively a male has 8, therewith its last elements are noticeably smaller. see -
Since we deal with carnivorous insects the female is usually larger than the male and it is recommended to feed the female well before mating (it is best to supply food during the whole time of mating). Mating lasts most often till the next day when it is possible to remove the male (if it is still alive). Depending on species and age the female produces a few eggcases called oothecas. It sometimes produces first ootheca after a few hours, (in my own experience of breeding this occurred only with the praying mantids Phyllocrania Paradoxa), in most cases however, when the female is young, approximately after a month, and further oothecas are laid at monthly intervals.
Oothecas need to be maintained reasonably moist according to preferences of each species by spraying and keeping the substratum bed moist. However it is necessary to sufficiently ventilate the vivarium in order to reduce the occurrence of fungi. Most typically, on about the 40th day young mantids hatch on thin threads, where they immediately moult. They often start ingest first nutriment on the second day after hatching.