Praying mantis hatching instructions on how to tie

"What moves will be eaten!"

The praying mantis

Praying mantises can also be found in Germany. The unique fishing horrors can be observed especially in the warm Kaiserstuhl. Engelbert Mayer talks about the way of life and the characteristics of the praying mantis in an interview.

  • A praying mantis eats a bee. - Photo: Engelbert Mayer

  • Large female and small male - the insect when mating. - Photo: Engelbert Mayer

  • After mating, the eggs are laid in an ootheca. - Photo: Engelbert Mayer

  • A nymph after the first molt. - Photo: Engelbert Mayer

  • This nymph has already molted several times. - Photo: Engelbert Mayer

  • A male praying mantis. - Photo: Engelbert Mayer

Engelbert Mayer founded the NABU Group Kaiserstuhl 24 years ago and was its chairman until the beginning of 2015. He has been organizing the five-day tour "Hoopoe and Hefezopf" for ten years and also deals intensively with the praying mantis, which can be found mainly in the Kaiserstuhl.

NABU: Is the praying mantis a native species or is it immigrant?

Mayer: It's a native species. The praying mantis has been here for a long time and for years only appeared in the Kaiserstuhl, but it is now spreading all over Germany. Whether it is Saxony, Saarland or the Cologne Bay, because it is a warmth-loving species. However, the main area of ​​distribution is here at the Kaiserstuhl.

Are there different types or just one?

The praying mantis "Mantis religiosa" is the only fishing insect that is native to Baden-Württemberg. “Mantis” means seer and comes from the Greek. Since she folds her tentacles up as if she were praying, the addition “religiosa” is added - hence the name praying mantis.

What kind of habitats does the praying mantis prefer?

She especially likes it warm. When it comes to living space itself, it is quite flexible. The clutch, called the oothek (pronounced O-o-thek), looks like a cocoon, but is a foam clutch. The praying mantis can stick it anywhere: whether it's a house wall, a rain pipe, a bush or a wooden board. We even had one under a Christmas cactus before. Something just has to bloom in the area that will also attract insects, which it then catches.

Are you more likely to find the praying mantis in the meadow or in the forest?

So you won't find it in the forest and not necessarily in the meadow either, but it can happen there. They are mainly found on embankments or in house gardens, because something is always in bloom. She sits still and waits until an insect is near her tentacles and catches it. So it does not fly around like a dragonfly to find prey, but rather lies in wait for its prey.

But can she fly?

Yes, it can fly. The eggs overwinter in the ootheca and around May the young praying mantises, the so-called nymphs, hatch. The limbs are already fully developed, but of course tiny. The ootheca is about the size of the last phalanx of the index finger. Between 60, 80 or even 100 young hatch. After the first molt, the little praying mantises start to eat, including each other, because they are cannibals. Everything that moves is snatched and destroyed. Praying mantises shed their skin several times. After the last moult, they are sexually mature and have wings. Then the pairing also takes place.

Does the female really always eat the male after mating?

That can be, but doesn't have to be. It also happens that a male eats a male, a female eats a female, or the female eats the male during mating, anything is possible. They are cannibals who do not distinguish. However, the male has to be careful that it is not eaten during mating. But (he smiles) that's actually a nice death.

After mating, the female sheds the foam clutch, which, as I said, can happen anywhere. Usually you only discover it when the leaves are gone everywhere. After mating, the praying mantis dies. This happens in the period from mid to late October or early November. There they hang somewhere in the woods and wait for them to die or they are eaten by birds beforehand. The life cycle then starts again in May next year with the hatching of the young.

Can praying mantises do something to humans? Are they poisonous or can they bite?

No, the praying mantis does not bite, is neither poisonous nor harmful. I was traveling with a tour group in July this year and was lucky enough to spot a nymph, she was still quite small and without wings. And then you can hold your hand on the front and nudge a little on the back and it goes to the hand. She climbs up there, just like you know it from the ladybug. You just can't close your hand. Because the praying mantis is strictly protected and is on the red list!

How tall is a full-grown praying mantis?

Adult praying mantises are between six and seven centimeters tall. The female is, by the way, larger than the male, not only in length but also more corpulent. The male is slim and slender. Just like in real life ... Then there are the long feelers and she can stretch out her tentacles.

What are the characteristics of the praying mantis?

The tentacles. It has barbs on these, so there is no escape for the trapped insects. It has no teeth but so-called mandibles as eating tools, it always goes from left to right, from left to right - this is how it eats the trapped insect. She eats spiders, wild bees, flies, everything that moves in front of her. When it has discovered prey a little further away from it, it begins to climb very slowly, making rocking movements. So it gets closer and closer to its prey and pretends to the victim: "I am a leaf in the wind". And then "zack" - you don't even notice it with the naked eye - it has caught its prey and eats it up.

What do I do if I have a praying mantis in the garden?

Just enjoy! The best thing to do is to make sure that it has food, i.e. something blooming that attracts insects. The females and males have to find each other via pheromones that we cannot perceive, and if they are lucky they will find and mate. To observe that is really a very, very great rarity.

The interview was conducted by Cathrin Hummel

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