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Praying Mantises Mating & Laying Eggs

9-18-16-praying-mantis-laying-eggs-by-ba-reaIn the fall, after mating, the female praying mantis lays up to 400 eggs in a frothy foam; together the eggs and the foam they are encased in are called an ootheca. This one to two-inch long mass is attached to vegetation, usually about a foot or two off the ground. Eventually the frothy structure hardens, providing a protective case for the eggs.

In the spring, miniature (wingless) mantises, called nymphs, will hatch from this egg case. When hatching, the nymphs appear all at once, crawling from between tiny flaps in the case and then hanging from silk threads about two inches below the case. They are identical to adult mantises, except that they lack wings. Within an hour or two, after drying out, they disappear into nearby vegetation.

A  video of a praying mantis laying her eggs and of the young mantises hatching can be seen at .

Thanks to Ba Rea, of Bas Relief Publishing ( ) for the use of her West Virginian egg-laying mantis photograph.

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5 responses


    Remember when we used to find these pods at the farm? I haven’t seen one in years!

    Sent from my iPad


    September 19, 2016 at 9:05 am

  2. Jean Harrison

    I thought the video was pretty much anti-mantis. It didn’t feature egg-laying and nymphs hatching. But the photo is great.

    September 19, 2016 at 1:26 pm

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    I never knew before about the extra membrane the nymph must shed upon emergence from the egg. It reminded me of a baby born in a caul. The way the unhatched nymphs are packed into the egg case is amazing. I thought the video did a great job showing hatching, and egg-laying too.

    September 19, 2016 at 6:12 pm

  4. LG

    Is it true that, after mating, the female eats the head of the male, a scene worth a photo ?

    September 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    • Hi LG, It is a popular belief, but not an accurate one, that female praying mantises always eat their mate’s head. Occasionally this happens, but definitely not every time. Scopes had a decent explanation: . I would give my eye teeth to photograph this phenomenon in the wild, but I doubt I’ll ever have the opportunity!

      September 20, 2016 at 7:37 am

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