For Pete's Sake

How to care for a Rally Mantis? Some tips from a former biology teacher

The Royals’ first Rally Mantis, seen here in a critter cage held by pitcher Ian Kennedy, may have died, but retired biology teacher Paul Spohn says that type of container is good for the bug.
The Royals’ first Rally Mantis, seen here in a critter cage held by pitcher Ian Kennedy, may have died, but retired biology teacher Paul Spohn says that type of container is good for the bug. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Days after their first good-luck charm died, the Royals found another praying mantis on their dugout Monday night in Detroit and were excited at the prospect of having another mascot in the clubhouse.

The thing is: Should they keep one?

“They actually do make a pretty good pet,” said Paul Spohn, a retired biology teacher. “The reason the thing probably died is because they needed to feed it. They need to feed it at least twice a day.”

It seems the praying mantis is a big eater, and at night it comes near a source of light while hunting moths. That might explain why they’ve been seen at stadiums.

Spohn, who lives in Shawnee and taught at Bonner Springs, Shawnee Mission North and SM West high schools, among other schools, noted that the female praying mantis is known for biting the head off its partner once mating is finished. In fact, they have been known to eat the entire male.

“One reason they need to be fed a lot is because they’re probably females and they are growing eggs big enough to lay an egg mass,” Spohn said. “Eggs have highly concentrated foods in them to feed the embryos.”

Once the female lays the eggs in the wild, it usually dies when the winter weather arrives.

The numbers show #RallyMantis has helped the Royals pivot 

But Spohn says that it should be fine to stay with the Royals. In addition to lots of food, the mantis will need access to water, kept away from extreme temperatures and a better home than a shoebox. Spohn believes the mantis needs to see out of its cage.

The first Rally Mantis died not long after it traveled by aircraft to Minnesota. Might a plane ride hurt a mantis?

“I wouldn’t think it would make a difference,” Spohn said. “All insects are cold blooded and they don’t use a lot of oxygen. It’s possible the pressure change could (be a problem) … but I don’t think it would make a difference. I don’t think there would be enough of a pressure change to crush them.”

So, yeah, perhaps Rally Mantis 2 (or Rally Mantis Jr.) could make it longer than its predecessor. The first Rally Mantis seemed to enjoy hanging with the Royals. It remains to be seen if the new mascot will be as social.

“It’s interesting how they don’t seem to be afraid of people,” Spohn said. “In fact, they almost seem to be pulled to people.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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