As a general rule, 2-3 weeks after their final moult, your mantis will be ready to mate. Different breeders have different preferences, some wait up to 4, or even 5 weeks before intorducing the male and female, but 2-3 weeks works well. Breeding can be carried out either in an enclosure, or out the encolsure; I find out of the enclosure much easier. You will have much more control over the mantids, and will increase chances of being able to separate the 2 if the female turns on the male.
The female must be well fed, so she will be less inclined to munch on the male, before, during or after mating. The best thing to place the 2 on before mating, is a house plant. Place the female near the top of the plant, so she hasn’t got far to crawl away, and above the female so she will be in prime view. Place the make around 5 ot 6 inces behind the female, this will give him enough space and comfort to sit, but at the same time a short enough distance to be drawn in by the female.
After about a minute, the male will usually gain interest in the female, and his antennae will start twitching. He will slowly crawl up towards the female, and hop onto her back. When this occurs, just leave the 2, and the mating process will take place. You will notice the male bending his abdomen around to connect with the female. You must make sure that at some point the male and female do connect, which usually implies the spermatophore (male sperm sack) has been transferred. They can spend up to 24 hours mating, although sometimes longer. Leave them for as long as they desire; interrupting the mating process can end in an unferilised female.
When the pair have finished, the male will usually hop off to another part of the plant, or fly around the room for a few minutes, and settle in another spot. The female is now fertile, and will start producing ootheca in around 2 weeks, sometimes less.
The male is not interested in the female, what do I do?
Sometimes, the male will be a little hesitant to mate. The mating process isn’t always instant, and may take them up to 2 days or more to engage in eachother, and for the male to gain interest in the female. The female must be of an appropriate age before the male will mate. At around 3 weeks, she will starts relseaing pheramones (chemicals) which attracts the male to mate. If she has not yet started relseaing these, the male may not show interest in her. Slightly nudging or gently blowing the female to make her move slightly can also grab the males attnetion, if there is other movmenet in the room distracting him.
The male has hopped on the female the wrong way round, is this bad?
This is quite a common occurance when mating, for the male to get overly excitied, and hop on back to front. Ususally he will right himself, and twist back around, but sometimes this can irritate the female, and she will try to strike at him. What one can do, is using a pencil, or another thin object, help to nudge the male into the correct position for mating.
The male is on the females back, but they are not mating. Will she still be fertile?
The answer to this, is no. Unless the male connects to the female, she will no be fertile after mating. Sometimes the male will sit for long periods of time on the females back without connecting his abdomen to hers. Again, this is quite common when mating, and usually if the pair are left, they will eventually connect. If not, then this can mean that the male is not quite ready for mating. Leave it about a week, and try mating the pair again.
My mantis has produced an ootheca, but the female was not mated. Will it hatch?
Depending on the species, no the ootheca will not hatch. There are a couple of species which are parthenogenetic, so they will produce fertile ootheca without mating. The only known species kept in captivity that can produce ootheca this way is the Brunerria species. Otherwise, any other species, infertile ootheca will not hatch.