Male mantids are
usually smaller than the female, and may end up as a post-coital meal for the
female, but this occurs more often in captivity than in the wild.
The eggs are
laid in oothecae (egg cases). The egg case and eggs are pumped out of the
abdomen as a frothy substance. This hardens on contact with the air to a tough
material. Above left you can see a female next to the egg case she has just
attached to some twigs.
During her lifetime a healthy, well-fed female can
produce a dozen or more oothecae. When the young hatch they resemble small
worms, but soon moult into small versions of the adult form. When kept in
captivity mantids should be separated as soon as they hatch or else each cage
will soon contain just one well-fed mantid!
Mantids as pets
They make popular pets. In captivity they can be fed on flies (pet shops sell curly winged flies that can barely fly, so are easily handled) or crickets or anything that moves. I have even had one attempt to dine
off my finger in preference to the small, juicy fly I was tempting it