Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The mantis egg cases outside have no signs of activity yet, but the one we brought inside became a source of fascination today, as fifty or more tiny praying mantids emerged.
The hatchlings are about the length of one of my fingernails. So far we've given them raisins soaked in water, and found a few tiny bugs under my flowerpots outside. Have not observed them eating, or any signs of fratricide, yet... But according to this website:
Egg masses, collected in September or October and brought into the warm classroom, have been known to hatch in early December of the same year. Then, large numbers of very tiny mantids will suddenly appear and, if not furnished fresh, live food, they will eat each other until only one or a few mantids are left. In the laboratory, the egg mass may be refrigerated for a few weeks, and then incubated at room temperature. Often, no refrigeration appears necessary.
So I guess I know what to expect. They hatched much earlier than anticipated, so I have been caught without a supply of fruit flies to feed them. Ordered some today, but I expect there will be fewer mouths to feed when the food arrives. If it were warmer, I would release them outdoors to fend for themselves, but it is still too cold for that.
More mantis information here: