Learn about Praying Mantis Food
Praying Mantis food consists of aphids, fruit flies and other small insects. Young mantids should be given a good amount of food – as much as they want – although they can last a long time without food if they have to.
As Praying Mantises grow, they will go after larger prey, including cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers and blue bottle flies. Some mantis’ may tackle prey every bit as big as they are, so they are not shy about attacking potential food.
The Praying Mantis is one of a group of about eighteen hundred insects. Most mantids come originally from tropical countries, even though some can be found in areas with cooler climates. They undergo what is called incomplete or simple metamorphosis. They don’t have a maggot stage or caterpillar stage, but they do go through a few stages of their own, and they all look like wingless, miniature adults. They are related to cockroaches, grasshoppers and stick insects. So they do eat insects that are related to the Praying Mantis. Food is where one finds it.
Many species of mantids are especially aggressive towards each other. If you try to keep them in groups, they may well eat each other. This is especially true if they are of different ages – the larger will attack and kill the smaller.
When the mantis grows, it will lose its skin a few times, and will become larger each time it does so. When it is young, you can keep it in a yogurt cup, and feed it smaller insects. As it sheds skin and grows, you will need to move it into a jar or a bottle, and feed it larger insects. Whatever size jar you are using for your mantis’ habitat, you will want to include a stick or branch, so the mantis’ can hang from it when they shed their skin.
Praying Mantis food is much more important to provide than drink. They actually do not normally need to drink. But if you are keeping them in a heated cage, slip in a small bowl of water, so that will give them much-needed humidity. Otherwise, you can spray the cage with water once a day, for the same purpose.
If you are mating your mantids, you need to feed both male and female as much as they will eat for a few days before you put the male into the female’s habitat. Make sure they have eaten their fill of insects before you put them together, or the female may eat the male. Talk about short romances, indeed.
After the female’s eggs hatch into nymphs, they must be given plenty of free choice food – otherwise, they may resort to cannibalism. After they molt the third time, house them separately, and feed as you do your other adult mantids.