Friday, September 5, 2014

PA Insects: The Praying Mantis

 Walking across the road of the Shamokin Dam Giant Store, I encountered a praying mantis also walking on the road. I put my hand down to him, knowing what he would do. He climbed up and continued up my arm, and then my shoulder. Eww, I couldn’t quite manage when he reached my neck. Gently, I brushed at him. He landed in the island between the parking spaces and the road.

How did I know he would climb up? That’s what they do. In fact, our family Read More
became intimately acquainted with their habits when one lived with us for the better part of a year. Matt brought one inside the house and asked if he could keep it. He was the bug man at the time having been very impressionable when the other two and I were studying insects for school. Well, being the good homeschool mother that I was, I said, yes. That sometimes got me into a lot of trouble.

We got out one of my favorite resources, Pet Bugs by Sally Kneidel and looked up how to keep a praying mantis as a pet. Having an abundance of aquariums around at the time, the children and I set one up as a home for the praying mantis. She turned out to be a fascinating pet. Before we go any further, let me emphasis that the Pennsylvania praying mantis is not on the endangered species list like some people believe. Keeping one as a pet is fine.

Okay, how do you tell a female praying mantis from a male? You will have to look that up, but we knew because she laid an egg case on the wire top of her cage. What an exciting moment that was in the Sieber household!

We also loved how she turned her head, looked at us when we came near, and waited for the bugs that we fed her. In the summer we caught grasshoppers. In the winter, Steckley’s Pet Store in Newport had nice brown crickets that we kept in a separate cage until mantis feeding time.

Matt walked around the house with his praying mantis on his arm or his head, although it did fly from time to time and had to be caught again. That always caused some animation among the younger members of the household. 

Another thrilling time occurred when the egg case finally hatched. A multitude of tiny versions of the adult walked all over the cage.

Saying yes to this project had been the right thing to do. Keeping a praying mantis as a pet was very educational and fun.  

Taken at the Penn State Insect Fair

1 comment:

  1. When I taught 3rd grade in public school many, many years ago, we had a p. mantis egg in a terrarium. It hatched, but we didn't have a tight lid on the terrarium. We walked in one morning, and the tiny little critters were EVERYWHERE! We tried to save as many as we could, carrying them outside, but it was impossible to save them all. I've never forgotten that hilarious one morning in the life of a third grade teacher-me. Thanks for the excellent post, Sandy.