How to Help a Praying Mantis Molt

Praying Mantises can grow to 6 inches long.
Praying Mantises can grow to 6 inches long. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Praying mantises go through three stages as they grow: egg, nymph and adult. Nymph praying mantises are essentially a smaller version of the full-grown adult. These insects have an exoskeleton, which means the skeleton is on the outside, and as they grow this skeleton must be shed. Helping a praying mantis shed its exoskeleton at various growth stages requires proper feeding, a steady hand, care and some precise instruments.

Things You'll Need

  • Medical gloves
  • Tweezers

Feed the praying mantis often. A properly fed praying mantis will grow and shed at the proper times. These insects should shed about 10 times before the final shed when wings appear. These insects will eat almost any insect.

Feed the praying mantis crickets from a pet supply store.
Feed the praying mantis crickets from a pet supply store. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Allow the praying mantis to shed its own exoskeleton, but if it needs help you can intervene.

Grasp the praying mantis carefully with medical gloves on only if it is having problems shedding on its own. Take tweezers and gently help the mantis remove its exoskeleton by grasping the exoskeleton with the tweezers and gently pulling it off the insect.

Discard the shed exoskeleton.

Tips & Warnings

  • Feed the praying mantis any insect that will not do damage to it. Purchase crickets from a pet store as a staple for the insect's diet.
  • House the praying mantis in a small yogurt container when it's a baby, and then switch to a jam or jelly jar and finally to a milk jug. You can also keep them in a glass aquarium.
  • Place a twig in a praying mantis' habitat for it to hang from while molting.
  • Keep a praying mantis' habitat 68 to 77 degrees at all times.
  • Keep water in a praying mantis' habitat; it will help the insect shed properly, because it contributes moisture to the air, aiding proper shedding.
  • Always put plastic wrap over the container the praying mantis lives in and poke small breathing holes in it.

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