Praying Mantises can play an important role in organic pest control. They have a voracious appetite and will eat just about any other insect that comes bugging by including all the ones that like to eat your vegetables.
In most parts of the U.S. Praying Mantises lay their eggs in the fall after the equinox up until the spring when they begin hatching. Usually the egg cases can be found in scrub or knee/waist-high bush areas away from cultivation, and generally not in the woods (buy maybe on the edge).
As with all foraging activities, it is a good idea to only take what you need, so as to leave a healthy population in place. Each egg case can hold up to 200 eggs. So even the addition of one or two Praying Mantis egg cases can have an impact on your garden pest population.
To hatch the eggs you must wait for warm weather to arrive, usually towards the middle to end of spring or after around 8 weeks of warm temperatures. Attach or carefully wedge the egg case onto the base of a plant or underside of a leaf. You can also hatch them in a brown sack inside in a warm sunny spot, but don’t forget to check on them regularly! Once they hatch you can distribute them throughout your growing areas. When they are tiny they will mostly eat aphids and such, but as they increase in size, so will the size of their prey.
Written by Emma O’Connell, Founder of Pick-A-Pepper.com
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