Back in March, I wrote that I was once again hatching Praying Mantises to help eradicate the abundant tick population on our property.
Last year, I bought just one Mantis case. This year, to insure my chances of success, I bought two cases. Since March, the two cases, each housed in plastic drinking cups, have remained dormant in the refrigerator. On May 1st, I brought the precious cases out and put them on the kitchen counter, close by so I can keep my eye on them.
So phase two begins. I use May 1st as a safe date to bring them out of the refrigerator because the cases take four to six weeks to hatch.
You don’t want them hatching too early. Here in western Massachusetts, we often get a killing frost late in May. Using May 1st to start phase two, puts them hatching after any threat of frost. Once they hatch, you need to take the container outside immediately and distribute the tiny, miniature Praying Mantises on branches of scrubs and plants, high off the ground so the ants won’t eat them, and taking care to separate the babies as much as possible (there are about 400 of them!) because they’re hungry and will start to eat each other.
If you are trying this experiment for the first time, don’t get discouraged if your case(s) take longer then six weeks to hatch.
Last year, I was just about ready to give up on the dormant-looking case sitting on the counter looking exactly the way it did six weeks prior in the refrigerator. I decided to give the case one more week… and that did it! Hundreds of baby Praying Mantises hatched before my very eyes on Memorial Day afternoon. It was exciting!