Breeding Carolina Mantises

Carolina mantises are not hard to breed, as long as you keep a few things in mind. Below you will find the tips and tricks that we use at PanTerra Pets to ensure success!

Prep the Female for Breeding

We would highly recommend waiting until you witness your female “calling” before introducing the male. We have lost several males to females that are not ready to breed, and choses to cannibalize the male instead of letting him mate with her.

What is praying mantis “calling” behavior?

Unlike other types of insects, mantises do not make any sounds. Calling in this context is a movement that all adult female mantises make to release their pheromones into the air and attract a mate. This is her way of signaling that she is ready! Once the female has been mated, she no longer takes on this posture, and adult males are less  likely to notice her as a potential mate as well. Here is a video to help explain this posture.

Make sure she has eaten a lot, and/or has plenty of food available in her enclosure, before introducing the male. If you can get your female mantis to take large prey items such as a cockroach from you, that would be ideal. If she is busy snacking on a big meal, she will be distracted, and her hands will not be available for grabbing the male mantis and making him a meal instead.

Prep the Male for Breeding

Before attempting to breed your male, you should make sure he is more than 2 weeks into adulthood, and has been kept in warmer conditions for at least a week before attempting a mate. We would suggest around 80F or a bit higher.

Place the male in her enclosure, so he is standing directly behind her. If he is behind her, she won’t see him, but he will see her. Once he is in her enclosure, watch him to make sure he doesn't crawl in front of her, and watch her to make sure she doesn't notice him. If she notices him, distract her and reposition him, so he is not in her view anymore.  As long as he is behind her and sees her, and she doesn't see him, it probably will not take him very long for him to jump on her back and start connecting! The males of this species are the fastest we've ever seen mount a female and connect...literally 5-10 minutes max, but usually less than that! Once he is safely on her back, you probably don't have to watch them as closely anymore. The male is out of immediate danger, and as long as there are enough tank decorations in with them, he will jump off of her back when he is ready and find a place to hide in the enclosure where she won't see him. He will remain there until you are able to remove him, and put him safely back into his own enclosure.

Ootheca Laying

The biggest issue we have had with this species is the female refusing to lay ootheca. If she does not lay, then she will eventually die at a premature age. This has happened to several of our females, but several of them have laid regularly every week to every other week until they die as well. With the females that lay well, they windup laying 6 or more ootheca each! The ones that don't lay, almost always get obese and die. Our only word of advice to avoid the former, is to not overfeed your females! Once we changed their feeding regiment to 8 blue bottle flies every other day, plus 2 cockroaches once a week, we have not had any problems with refusal to lay ootheca or premature death with this species.

Where will she lay?

Depending on the individual mantis, your female will either lay directly on the screen or mesh that is at the top of their enclosure, or on a stick somewhere within the enclosure. Sometimes they prefer an area with more cover, sometimes they just lay where ever they are hanging out! Preferences vary between individual females.

Ootheca Hatching

We have had great success hatching Carolina ootheca under the following conditions:

  • Incubate in a 32oz deli cup with fabric vented lid, and ootheca affixed to the lid with a low temp glue gun.
  • Temperatures between80F and 85F during the day, and 70F and 76F at night.
  • Remove the lid every other day to mist the sides of the deli cup without getting the ootheca wet. DO NOT MIST OOTHECA DIRECTLY!

To Diapause or Not To Diapause?

Since the Carolina mantis is native to the southeastern United State their ootheca would naturally experience a diapause in the wild. Because of this, we would recommend providing a diapause for your Carolina ootheca in captivity as well.

  • What is Diapause?
Diapause is a halt in development during the winter, followed by an extended warm-up period in the spring. The lower temperatures in winter will stop the development of the nymphs inside of the ootheca, while the warm up will trigger the nymphs to begin developing inside the ootheca and then finally hatch.
  • How do I diapause my ootheca in captivity?
We recommend setting up the ootheca in the same way that you would if you were incubating it to hatch; Affix the ooth to a fabric vented lid of a 32 oz deli cup using a low temperature glue gun, and line the bottom of the cup with moist sphagnum moss. The only difference is you that you must store the 32 oz deli cup in your refrigerator for at least 6-8 weeks (mist once a week, or once every few weeks while in the refrigerator), before taking it out to incubate at 80-85F.
  • Will the ootheca hatch without a diapause?
Possibly.  If you diapause the ootheca, usually all the nymphs will hatch out at once after around 40 days of incubation. If you try to hatch them out without diapause, it might still hatch, but it will take at least 3 months or more at 80 to 85F, before it starts hatching. Once the nymphs start hatching, often they will hatch a few nymphs every day for several weeks, instead of all at once. Sometimes total hatch rates are much lower, and sometimes the ootheca will not hatch at all. Thus, this option is not recommended.