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November 21, 2011 8:24 AM   Subscribe

How do we keep praying mantis eggs from hatching until spring?

We managed to have our pet female praying mantis mate with a wild male (probably its brother: we bought an oocyte (eggpod) last spring and released all of the nymphs, except the one we kept as a pet. The male was captured in our garden. The poor guy literally lost its head in the process). She has now laid her own oocyte. It's winter now here in Canada, and we want to keep the eggs from hatching until spring, when conditions for release will be appropriate. All the info I can find on the web talks about keeping oocytes in the fridge for a few weeks, not a whole winter. Any suggestions?
posted by bluefrog to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My family use to hatch and order the egg sacs. We usually just kept them in a cool dry place, usually in the garage. Here in Michigan, it gets quite cold, but figuring they survive in nature under such duress, the garage is fine.

The eggs seem to hatch when they are ready and no sooner. We would bring them into school, and they would always hatch at different times.
posted by handbanana at 8:32 AM on November 21, 2011

Since egg cases are made to stand outdoor conditions overwinter, I would expect them to survive well enough in such conditions - ie, you could keep it outside. If you keep it in a garage, don't forget about it unless you want a garage full of mantises.

I also emailed a supply company with this question. Hopefully I'll hear back.
posted by plinth at 8:41 AM on November 21, 2011

Put it in your fridge.

I absolutely love mantids. I spent my entire nerdy childhood looking for one, but never found one. And now I can order them on the internet! Hells yeah! Here's one of my brood just hatched. And about 4 months later.

I regularly get mantis cases for my gardens here in Minneapolis. Though I wonder about the hardiness. We do not have mantids natively in Minneapolis, but while tearing out an old dead bush last spring I found a mantis egg case on it.

I put it out with my mail ordered ones this spring, and huzzah! The overwintered case actually hatched first. This was surprising because we hit at least -26F last year, and this one was high enough on the bush not to be covered in snow, it was fully exposed. We only hit 32 once between Nov 20 and March. So they are hardier than they say. Still he have none natively.

Some people say I shouldn't introduce non-native insects to a place like this. I always assumed they couldn't overwinter, but apparently they do. But I don't worry about it. My brother worked at a Lowes a few miles away and he said every lumber shipment they get in from the south is just covered in mantids.
posted by sanka at 8:57 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I didn't know other people did this!! Always thought my mom was just weird (and cool).

We always kept our egg cases outside all autumn and winter, but in a sheltered spot so it wouldn't blow away or be too exposed. (Our usual spot was an inset part of the house exterior where we could wedge the stick the egg case was on into the metal strap holding a gutter onto the house). Then we'd bring it inside when it got warm out and wait for it to hatch!
posted by bubukaba at 10:32 AM on November 21, 2011

I'm a big mantid lover, too. I take lots of photos of them. I haven't tried raising them myself , but in my research about them I've read that they hatch fairly late. They have to wait until other insects are around or else they just eat each other. I would just let the oocyte winter outside and then put it in a container in early spring.
posted by DaddyNewt at 10:58 AM on November 21, 2011

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