myBurbank Talks

The Kid’s Table with Riley Gogerty- Guest: Praying Mantis Breeder Cole Cramer

October 26, 2023 Riley Gogerty / Cole Cramer Season 1 Episode 1
myBurbank Talks
The Kid’s Table with Riley Gogerty- Guest: Praying Mantis Breeder Cole Cramer
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In the first episode of the Kid’s Table with Riley Gogerty, 10-year-old Riley sits down to chat with Cole Cramer, a 9th-grade student who lives in Burbank chat, about his business Mantis Universe and his love and passion for the world of Entomology.


Cole has turned his childhood fascination into a business by breeding and selling mantises from his own home. He shares his passion for insects and his unique methods for observing and collecting various species in the wild. 


In this episode you’ll hear how Cole started Mantis Universe, what it takes to care for and ship such tiny little creatures, the world of attending expos, his favorites of the insect world, and how his passion helped him create a youth entomology club.

Speaker 1:

From deep in the Burbank Media District. It's time for another edition of my Burbank Talks, presented by the staff of my Burbank. Now let's see what's on today's agenda as we join our program.

Speaker 2:

Hey guys, this is Riley on the Kids Table podcast on my Burbank. Today I have Cole Cramer and he's been telling us about his Mantis universe. How old are you and who got you in? Hey, so I'm Cole Cramer. I'm in ninth grade right now. I'm a freshman and I go to Locking Out of High School. So by the time, what age did you start wanting to like bugs and starting your company? So I'm pretty sure it was on three years ago. I was around 11 and I just like past. Your Mantis is just, I had a huge passion, it was crazy and I just wanted to start a business. Yeah, they are very, very cool. Yeah, they are Very cool creatures. To me they don't really look like bugs. To me they look like aliens.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, aliens.

Speaker 2:

But when did you discover your love in Mantis? Well, I started liking Mantis's we're on the same time. I started Mantis's universe a few years ago, but when I started liking bugs I was around two years old. But the first time I ever had experience with Mantis was I'm pretty sure I was around five and I found a California Mantis Ooth which is like an egg sack. It was in my backyard and I put it in a box a Seafoat hatch and it did. A few months later I had like 200 babies just crawling around. I was freaking out. I was like this is so cool. And then, yeah, so then that's when Mantis is like started coming into my mind. But then I took a break from Mantis's and then, yeah, in 2019 over COVID, or 2020 over COVID, I started to get like started buying some Mantis's and stuff and then I bred so many Like I had a bunch it was jewel flowers, I'm pretty sure I first bred. And then what happened next? Then, uh, egg sack hatched and I had around 20 babies and I created a flyer and posted it on Magnolia Park Mamas and like within two hours I made $200. That's pretty crazy, but I've you know the place where you get all the home good stuff. So you know how they have like those little bins with like the praying mantis egg sacs. I bought one and I was so excited. I was like really young, I was like five, and I was like so excited for it to hatch. I was like waiting and I was waiting. I had like two months went by and it never hatched. Yeah, it was like yeah and I thought it was a dud. So when I opened the cage I looked in the limb Like like 80 of them, just like, just like, just like well, and then one jumped and it landed on my nose that's cool. And then I brushed it off and I was like screaming. So, yeah, what do you have for your home setup? Like when you said you're breeding all your mantises, would you like, like, bring them in your room? They are in my room. Yeah, I have a whole shelf setup, like bookshelves kind of, but like made of wire, and I just have mesh cube on top of mesh cube in there, just like all stacked up on top of each other. I have for the babies they're in like big ones because most species are like communal, they can live together and everything. But, yeah, adults like keep separate and little mesh cages. Do you have anything else than just like praying mantises or? Um, I do keep a lot of stuff right now. I just got back from a trip from Arizona and we collected a bunch of moths and like crazy, like beautiful big ones and we stuck on paper bag delayed eggs and now I have a bunch of crazy huge caterpillars Nice, that's pretty cool, nice. So, um, do you have any favorites between all of your fun little creatures in there? I really love, like mantis wise or just anything. Mantis wise, okay.

Speaker 1:

We'll do that after.

Speaker 2:

Okay, mantises, probably the idol, mantis diabolica, it's a devil's flower. Mantis, they're crazy cool. They put their arms up in the air. I'm pretty sure they're from Tanzania, yeah, in Africa, but yeah, they put arms in the air. They're really beautiful, like rainbow color. They're white and green. It's really crazy. Now, um, besides your praying mantis, yeah, um, my favorites have to be my pin specimen collection, which are like a bunch of scientific specimens. Yeah, mainly you showed me one. Yeah, yeah Tiger beetles those are my favorite and booprestons, which are wood borers Pretty cool, yeah, so, um, so you like you know, so you sell them, right, you sell them on your website. Yeah, how do you like ship a living bug? It's pretty hard to master at first but it's pretty basic. So I have like eight by seven shipping container, a little box and that is insulated by Styrofoam and they're like outsides. The bottom and top keep all the warmth inside, I guess. And then I pull first. I guess I pack the mantis in a cup and make like, cut out the top and the lid it's a little deli cut from like wherever, like Amazon or whatever.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Um, I cut a hole in the top. I put um organza on top for, like air ventilation, kind of for the day they can breathe through, um, and then a little bit of excelsior so they can climb up. I scratch the insides of the cup with sandpaper and then tape it up so they don't you know, fall out, I guess, and then stick the cup inside the box, the insulation, and then pack it all in with like packing paper, newspaper and everything, yeah, yeah, and put Styrofoam on and tape it all up, label Um, so you're shipping them. This is my question about the shipping. Yeah, how do you, how do you keep the mantis from like to stop breathing, cause it's like all packaged and still up, how do you? I mean, they're so small, they're taking like the little, tiniest breaths at a time, so like one of our breaths could like ask them their whole life. Oh, wow, so it's just like a little thing. So, um, your mantis universe, um, I was watching your Instagram while I was making um, getting all my questions. Yeah, yeah, um, so you have, um, who's name it? 57,000, 57,000 followers. Yeah, um, when did you? When did you start your Instagram and your viewers? I'm pretty sure maybe a few months after I started making the flyers and everything. But actually, um, a local mom on the group that I posted the flyers to, she saw that and said like we should do a news story on this. So then she came to my house and took a video and everything and then in that story I said I my business mantis universe. Go check out my website, mantisuniversescom. I haven't made a website yet. We just bought the domain on go daddy, um, but I was like, tell my mom we have to make a website right now. Yeah, but, um, so, um, I see you make a lot of like videos with your mantises and you put like some funny soundtracks. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, I saw the one where you went to Costa Rica, right, yeah, um, so I saw a lot of crazy features over there. Um, yeah, I saw a lot of ants. You have any ants like in your home? I do have a couple ant colonies. They're not like the basic gel ones that die in a few weeks, they're like special ones. They're like tunnels and like the little glass. Yeah, like tunnels there. Yeah, but they have queens so they last for like six, ten years. Yeah, just keep reproducing. Yeah, look, what kind of ants do you have? I have honeypot ants and carpenter ants. Carpenter ants, yeah, I've heard a lot about carpenter ants. Yeah, um, back to your prime mantises. Um, so by this I just say my favorite of your prime mantises, I really like the orchid. The orchid, yeah, really cool, those guys are really cool colors are really, yeah, actually have some right here. Oh, wow, orchids, nice, these are about. I five, four or five orchids, yeah, so like, is that? Is that like where you like, how you ship them? Is that the same kind of? It's a little smaller, but yeah, but you guys are communal, so but so, yeah, they are kept together. I got, you see, I got three in here, but uh, yeah, the cups I ship them in are about this big. Hmm, also, um, off the set, I see that big little mesh thing right there. Yeah, what's in it? What's in that? Here we have a Kirby E mantis. This is a kind of shield mantis. They're a little feisty to get her out one of the bottoms, like this guy. Yeah, this is a shedding. Oh, that was the actual moment. Just on the ground, this guy I saw like a little foot thing. I was like, yeah, this guy's pretty crazy. Yeah, get him. Okay, there we go. Look at that guy I can see, like the back, kind of yeah it looks like a yeah yeah, also when I saw it, when I was watching, you see, I saw like that, the, the cobra mantis, I think oh yeah those are. Oh yeah, so cobra mantises are green and they have like a huge shield, like comes out to here at least yeah, it looks like a, well, a cobra, yeah and um, I saw like on the hands was like little black dots, yeah, yeah, like eyes, yeah, so the cobra mantises. They put the arms up, yell little high specs, oh, yeah, um. So, um, also, when first time I really saw you in person was at the reptile expo, yeah, how did how do those like really start the expose like how I got? So how did this start? I feel like for you and I like that, oh, thank you. Well, I went there. Well, I have been going to Reptile Expos and Shows for since I was like five and then I was like, oh, it'd be so cool if I could have a booth and I could sell my actual stuff, because I already had my website and everything. Yeah, and you're. So then yeah, and then, like I'll be cool to sell them in person to people that you know who's buying from you and everything, and they don't have to pay for shipping, so they just come see you, they buy it. So we just entered for like $100 to enter and get a table. And then, yeah, we just set up. I made a good amount of money at the Reptile Show around $5,000. Oh, that's so hot. Actually. My next question was how much do you usually make per show? How many do you sell and how much money do you make? I sell around 100, usually 100?, yeah, 100. How much money do you usually get off that? Around a few thousand, a thousand, okay. Um, which one's the most expensive, mantis, because I feel like that's like a main question for people that want to buy them what's the most expensive, what's the cheapest, what's the easiest to maintain? So the Devil's Flower, my favorite one, is $100 on my website. It's like pretty crazy. They're really rare right now. From the name it kind of sounds like that price is actually a little lower than I would think it would be. They can sell for $200. But now, what's the cheapest out of your big bunch? I don't sell California Mantises, but those would be the cheapest, but definitely Budwings. Those guys are pretty cool. Yeah, they get really fat. So when you go to these expos, have you ever bought something from the own expo that you were working at? Oh, yeah, oh, the one I was working at, yeah, or just the table Like the whole expo, yeah, the whole thing. I have a bunch of stuff. I usually buy pin specimens like dead stuff with candles, anything alive, Mmm. Ants.

Speaker 1:

Ants. Sometimes more mantises in stock when I went there.

Speaker 2:

I feel like you were the only one that was really selling mantises there. Yeah, but I did see that people selling bugs you were the only mantis seller there. There were a bunch of get-goes and stuff and everything, but it's not a bug expo. No there was a bug for every year though, yeah, the Atroist Museum. Yeah, but technically I feel like it suits them, like praying mantises, like that one and that one. To me they don't feel like bugs, they feel like something that just like crashed down Alien yeah, just like crawled out or something. Yeah, but I would like them. But oh, yeah, I heard you started a club recently with your friend. Yeah, yeah, you want to tell about that. Yeah, lorkwin Society Scholars. So there's a Lorkwin Society, like a bunch of old men run it, but they're all professionals, they're all smart, but it wasn't Well, they weren't over like really advanced topics and everything. And we thought like, oh, like little kids that like bugs, they wouldn't really understand all this stuff. They're talking about light refraction on butterfly wings and stuff and everything. Yeah, that wouldn't be really cool for little kids. Yeah, like. So my friend Connor and I we decided to make like a kid-friendly version and we just go on hikes, we do pinning workshops, show them how to pin everything, like that. That's cool, that sounds fun. Yeah, so you brought some pin bugs over here. Oh yeah, I want to go get those on the table. I brought two boards. Oh, that's a lot. Two of the many, how many do you have? How many do I have? Maybe around 10, 10, oh, that's a lot. 10's, including a few more than I'm gonna get. Oh, huh, but I'm like so you said you know when you go to the expose you, yeah, you buy them. I do, yeah, so like, do they come in like full boxes, like that? Like no, like specific single ones? I don't know, yeah so or two at a time, I guess, but these two, these are called Matikora, suspicious to target real. This is mainly a target real board at target rules. Target rules, target rules, all these guys a lot of yeah, really really small ones. Yeah, like I see over there, I see a lot of like little white. Yeah, these are point mounted specimens. I'm really into those guys. So you get a dab and nail polish and put on the end of piece of cardstock Acid-free and then, yeah, you kind of just put them on the end. Yeah, they're that small. Yeah, there's no way that they're bugs that small. Is it like a? Yeah, and I take or something? I mean takes our huge, compared like things are like that big, but just a bunch of like Winged insects, stuff like that be like. I need to paint them. Paint them like it's like you said, we put like nail polish on it. So this is, yeah, I just make some stick to the end. Oh, yeah, how do you like see them? You got to use a little like from here, I just see like little like. Yeah, yeah, look really closely at them. But when I'm going collecting, I think one of your questions was like how do I collect and everything. Yeah so I set up a mercury vapor light along with a black light. Oh, it was, um, it was how you set up the nets. How do you say nets and nets that you were talking about when you went to? Oh, yeah, so you went to Arizona. Yeah, I went to Arizona. Yeah, pick up the moss. You said, yeah, how do you set up the net to like catch them? Yeah, so I set up a big white sheet Like a bed sheet, and it has to be white, though I guess it could be grayish, but yeah, white, and it has to be a texture that insects can grab on to and like hang on. You put the mercury light in front, the black lights hanging on the sheet, and then the black light attracts them, or I mean the mercury light attracts them far away. So so, like, when you like, yeah, like outside, like a jog, you should like the big lamp post, you see, like all these little things, yeah, basically it's like that, yeah, and they're like, so, like, how do they like stay on it? Yeah, the black light makes them land, kind of yeah, but then, so then their hands, I guess, and then like yes. I'm like, when you do like do it at night and you go to sleep and wake up in the morning to catch him, well, just like, sit there and wait, wait until 4 am, and then like, once, once they land, you like like grab them or like I want me. Yeah, the sheet usually turns black v insects yeah, that's crazy. Yeah, it's pick what you want. Mm-hmm. So, um, did you, did you take any? And um creatures from when you went to Arizona? No, yeah, I couldn't take any back cuz of the fight home, yeah, international. But, um, arizona, I took around 400 specimens. Between how much do you like? Usually take 400 around, yeah, but those are all. They're not just taking like what, like I'm gonna take that, I'm gonna take this. It's like each like special one, that like, oh, this one would be good in the collection. Like you type out data, the county name, the Providence, the coordinates, the everything who collected it, the date, yeah, so I was on your Instagram. I saw a lot about um, I saw a lot of these menses. I feel like the most like vibrant color for a mantis when I looked around was the green. Like green and pink, oh, yeah, it's like when I was looking at it with majority of like the ones there, I think like they were all like the same inches. It was like, yeah, they're all like crazy different. Like, yeah, like main colors. I'm almost like, yeah, brownish colors, and like, yeah, usually green. And like I saw like some like feral pinks in there, yeah, or they're definitely pink, yeah, pink and white, but when they're babies I can see a little pink up there, yeah, but, yeah, um, what are the menses that I have? Mmm, I, darth Vader's were pretty cool. That's Vader, those are all black. They have like shields that look like Darth Vader's hood or whatever. I don't watch Star Wars, I don't know, but, um, so you have it when you're older. I can see you're at a young age starting this. Yeah, yeah, you think, when you're older, like, maybe, like in your 20s, 30s, like you want to collect anything else but the mantises, like one of like, like lizards, geckos. I've tried losing before, but you can't really. I mean, I get you could bring, but I didn't really bring. But, um, I Don't see myself doing my business forever. Um, maybe a few more years, but then I really. I mean, I'm in high school, so a few more years and a high school. I'm gonna go to college and you could get like a zoology degree. Yeah, I wanted to get a degree in research. Oh, I'm entomology, but like research, entomology, field, entomology, yeah, well, you're trying to go for like the science aspect of this. What's funny is another one of my questions was um, what is, what are any of your goals in your business in the future years? Mmm, definitely sell a lot more. Yeah, increase my income, I guess. Yeah, true income, yeah, have like. So I know the population of like animals is like in like the millions and like, yeah, hundred million, but like I have an estimate, how many mantises are like out there to different species or individual like different species? Um, um, it's like a, like an estimate.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there's about, um, well, scientists think there's about 2,600 species of mantises, but they've only discovered around 1,900 so far. Wow, that's, that's a big difference. Yeah, but how many? How many do you have, by all difference, whatever on website, I don't know, maybe around 20, 30 species, a 30 species out of 200? Yeah, thousand, not hundred thousand, just no, no, yeah, I thought you did, but, um, so, as you're saying, like with your, with your collecting, you said you want to go to like get kids, like your degree and like, yeah, science, yeah, well, like, so you're, you're. You say you want to go into entomology, right, mm-hmm, entomology and um, so that, um, I'm pretty sure entomology is the study of like bugs, yeah, and you want to study like praying mantis, like specifically, or just like bugs in general. Um, uh, like any specific species on a toe, definitely the tiger beetles. I really yeah, and the breasted and Storm bisters which are a long horn beetles. So those are pretty yeah, I have one of those pinned. Oh, I showed me that guy. Yeah, I show you him. But, um, so, when we're talking about on your pin board showing you, you said you had to there. Yeah, I'm gonna show the other one here. Let's get this one. This one's pretty cool. There's a few moths mixed in here, but I can see something that is so big. Oh, yeah, that's the life beetle. It's definitely a Goliath. I'll tell you that. That is the heaviest beetle in the world that I got right there. Wow, how much did that? You buy that one? Yeah, I did, but I was like seven when I bought that one. He was how much did that cost you? $75, wow, I feel like that would be more. But I see a lot of the same thing when I talk about that, because I see a lot of bugs and they're the exact same. Yeah, is it different genders or different like? Yeah, genders and everything, but just multiples of the same thing, in case one gets damaged or anything. Or like we see formation, like formation differences. Yeah, see differences in, maybe a subspecies or anything. Maybe do research on them.

Speaker 1:

Or like.

Speaker 2:

Have you ever really found something you thought was new but it wasn't Like. You're like, oh, I see this thing, I see this little bug, and I was like, oh, I've never seen that before. I think I've found a new species Not yet, but I hope one day.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because.

Speaker 2:

I feel like when little kids, because they're not used to seeing it, because when you get older you're like, oh, I've seen that before. But when you're little, like, oh, I've never seen that. So you're like, oh, I think it's an indefending new species. But once you get to like a certain age of like 10, let's say like 10, you're like oh, that's probably already found, If I found it and I'm a kid- I feel like someone's already found it because they're like defining their whole life to this. But I had a little pin board once and I really found a lot of the same things. I found a lot of, like, june beetles oh yeah, those guys are all over, yeah. But what was really cool was when so like when I did it, my thing I'm not sure if you did it the same way, but I froze them, oh yeah, so I do it. Yeah, well, with Boston butterflies, you inject them with ammonia. Yeah, you gotta get a syringe and inject them. That's the most ethical way. Well, that's that's. You don't want them flopping around in the freezer, yeah yeah, but so something that was really cool about the one I caught there's actually two I caught that were really cool. So I caught this June beetle. It was a common June beetle and I caught him and I was like, oh, accepting, like this little clothes, little guy and it'd be cool, just a pin. And I caught him and he was. I looked, I looked at the thing. I was like did he escape? I didn't see anything. I was looking and I looked at the bottom, like that, and I saw him and he was frozen, stuck to the ceiling and it was so cool and but his wings were open and I was so happy because usually you have to like you're frozen and open the wings. But I already found one like that and it was really cool. But then so I found this, yeah, and then I found another one. It was the same beetle. So I've been like collecting them and so I was looking up in class we were like looking up like species of animals. I wanted to do bugs and I was like. I was like we said something and then we watched this video and said something in your backyard and I was like, oh gosh. So I looked at Junebugs and I was like, oh, that's really cool. So then I saw with its wing open and it had like a cool like diamond on its back, cause like there's like this little white spots on their backs it had like it was like kind of messed up, it was like a shape of a diamond. I was like, oh, that's so cool. So then I was really looking around stuff and I caught one. So then I just kept catching June beetles and opened the wings trying to find a cool one. So I was trying to find the diamond because it just looked like a diamond, it was messed up, it wasn't like a diamond diamond and I was trying to find the same one. But I did it and I opened the wing and it was a heart. It was so cool. And I actually think I still have it, but you gotta show me that guy. It's actually really cool. But something I think about bug is really cool is people see these like these blank little brown guys and like, oh, get that away. And they see like these crazy things and they buy them. But like it's like underneath you don't know underneath what I think is really cool people just like it's brown. I don't want it. Like, when you take a look and you actually look under, there's like white and there's gray, there's all these colors. People are just saying, oh, brown. That's the same with Puprest. It's like they're called jewel beetles. That one, right, there is brown. But like it's so cool, the jewel beetles. There's some that are beautifully colored, Like iridescent, everything. Yeah, like the green beetles. I call them flying emeralds, yeah, but some are completely brown. And then you just look under the wings of jewel beetles and it's just iridescent. Yeah, it's pretty, but, um, I thought, dream girls back to your back to your rentices.

Speaker 1:

How would you like your business advertised in this very spot? My Burbank Talks is looking for businesses interested in a 30 second spot to appear in our podcasts. If you're interested, please email advertising at myburbankcom and we'll be glad to discuss all of the exciting opportunities with you. Now back to our podcast.

Speaker 2:

We're back. So I was just saying for, like a beginner with Romantic Collections, give them a tip like how would they start Like what to feed them, yeah, yeah, how to get their water and what to put inside they like because, like some people say, like less is more like and seeing that thing, it was like nothing in there, but it's like all this like string and stuff. Yeah, so tell us like how would you set that up? So I feed them the big ones like this. I feed them Red Runner Roaches, which are I mean, they're roaches like people say oh gross, but they're not gross, they're like farm rays, they eat special food. So I mean I would eat it. I wouldn't eat it, but they're clean enough to be eaten by a human. But smaller ones, I feed fruit flies, like the orchids. It's like little flies, they can't fly, thankfully. Yeah, fly the fruit flies, but yeah, they come in. Little thing, tap it down, tap a few flies in. Yeah, I actually got one and they're so cool, but like, so you said you put them in the fridge, refrigerator to like, get them to like. I think it was like to slow down the hatching process or something. Yeah, for house flies and like you said. So basically they come in eggs and they hatch and then you put them in there. Yeah, it was really cool. So they shut the pupa and then, yeah, and then you put them in the fridge to prolong their incubation, I guess. Yeah, so that's amazing. But like, natural, like for, like the water and like, as I see that, like, as I said, that one and that one, like, what should we put like is less, more is more better, for this one's pretty plain. You see, all they really need is just like something to hold on to. But spring is really important. This one is open air, this one's enclosed. So orchids come from Malaysia more tropical Indonesia and Malaysia and more human and everything, and they're the moisture is retained for a longer period of time, but this one's from Africa, so the moisture goes in, they eat, they drink it and then it evaporates, so they don't need. As long as they drink it, they're okay. But you don't really need to decorate. I mean, this is just when they fall. They climb up. Yeah, so like, like, like, could we, or is like you could decorate it, but nothing alive, because, yeah, it would rot, yeah, but, um, so like, just put like, basically just like, put like two or three sticks in there just from the climb on. Yeah, perfect, so like. So when you say we do with the water to back with your Instagram, yeah, so I saw you and it was like it was a little cat noise, yeah, but like, I was like it was on the side of like a container and it was like a sprayed water, that was like water drop and he was just like eating it, so like basically just take like spray bottles, only bottle water though. Never tap water. Oh why? Why? Because um tap water, it has chlorine in it, which is Plus plus um plus like it's, I'm pretty sure, um tap water is from like. Let's see what it's like filtered.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think it's not healthy for men. Yeah, yeah, even fridge water, yeah, no fridge water.

Speaker 2:

But for me I feel like the fridge water is the most like compelling one, because like it's filtered, yeah, and like put through all this stuff, all for your fridge, but like how? But they still can't filter out the chlorine in the water. Yeah, about the bottle water, though don't they still leave minerals filter, filter it, filter it, but it's not chlorine to kill anything. So, like chlorine is okay for like for humans, but they're so small, that's true. Um, so that's that's it for today. All right, um, mrs Riley, and oh, kramer, kramer, and this is the end of the my Burbank podcast. See you in a new one, right, see ya.

Speaker 1:

My Burbank talks would like to thank all of my Burbank's advertisers for their continued support. Burbank water and power, Kusamano real estate group, you me credit union. The Burbank chamber of commerce, gain credit union Providence, St Joseph medical center community. Chevrolet, media city credit union, UCLA health, tequila's cantina and grill, UPS store on third street and Hill street cafe. Yeah,

Mantis Universe
Collecting and Studying Praying Mantises
Caring for Orchids and Flies