Praying mantis nests for the tough-to-please teenager

 

Engaging older kids in the garden is definitely not as easy as it was when they were young.  

It takes a little more craftiness than having their own ‘big kid shovel’ to lure some of these kids back into the garden, so I’m always willing to try  something new.

One foolproof method is finding anything that’s the slightest bit icky – such as my mushroom experiment.

But one of my biggest success stories to date has been praying mantis nests.

You can usually find containers of praying mantis nests at your local nursery during early spring and summer for about $7.00 for a package of two.  

We’ve purchased them in the past, always hoping they’d hatch and provide us with at least one praying mantis that we can watch throughout the summer.

Being somewhat territorial insects, praying mantis tend to hang out in one location in the garden, so it’s always fun to have an ‘easter egg hunt’ of sorts to try and find where it’s hiding.

We always keep these little nests in a warm location in the house, in a covered plastic terrarium so we can watch their progress.

This time, I was fortunate enough to walk by at the exact moment the nest began to explode with babies emerging from their cocoon.  

I quickly placed them out in the garden as these little babies have voracious appetites when they first emerge.

If you can find an aphid-covered rosebush, or some other such buffet, they will start feasting immediately! Be careful, though, because as soon as the little birds in your garden get wind that you’re setting out their next meal, they’ll swoop down and start their own feast (which is a little traumatic, even for those hardened teenagers) .

Yesterday I found a young one, who is now a few weeks old. 

It’s only about 1″ long, but if it survives the birds, it’ll grow to be as long as 6 – 7″.

And don’t forget, they’re not only a great way to engage your kids in the garden, but they’re wonderful as pest management!

 

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5 Comments

  • When I was a kid in Ohio we would catch praying mantises and feed them grasshoppers- then we could enjoy the spectacle of hunting, capture, and feasting up close.

    Now I just enjoy their grace and power without the hapless hopper part.
    Positive Massage Therapy

    Reply
  • This IS super cool, but I’m laughing at the irony of praying mantises AND chickens to eat them, both for the hard-to-please teen. 😉

    Reply
  • Very cool! I hadn’t realized you could buy a nest like this. Seems a bit risky though, if you’re not home when they hatch, to you arrive to some sort of last bug standing scenario?

    Reply
  • Great post! After not finding my yearly mantis until the end of SEPTEMBER last year, I was really glad to see she left at least two of these eggs cases behind (I looked them up, they’re called ‘ootheca!’ This year I have at least a dozen, and that’s just the ones I’ve seen! The day I see one eating a baby snail or a slug will be a happy one indeed (do they?) Any flowery bush that gets visited a lot is a great home, and I like how you mentioned that they hang around the same spot. And they do get big; last year mine caught a little tree frog when she was in her prime. Eww. Too bad my kids are no longer teens!

    Reply

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