Asian Mantis vs Carolina Mantis: Intriguing Battle of the Bugs

The Asian mantis and the Carolina mantis are two fascinating species of praying mantises that intrigue insect enthusiasts and gardeners alike.

While they share some similar traits, the differences between the two species make them distinct predators in their respective environments.

The Asian mantis, or Chinese mantis, is a non-native species in the United States, often considered an invasive species.

In contrast, the Carolina mantis is native to North America and is a significant predator of insects in various landscapes.

Asina Mantis source: I, Luc ViatourCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Both species are generally mottled gray, brown, or green, which provides camouflage, enabling them to blend in with their surroundings while hunting for prey.

A few key differences between these two mantis species include their size, origin, and the appearance of their ootheca, or egg case.

The Asian mantis is larger than the Carolina mantis, with a length of 2 to 5 inches, while the Carolina mantis typically reaches around 2.5 inches in length.

The Carolina mantis has a narrower and longer ootheca compared to the Chinese mantis.

Furthermore, the wings of adult Carolina mantis cover only about two-thirds of their abdomen, unlike those of the Chinese mantis, which cover the entire abdomen.

Asian Mantis vs Carolina Mantis

General Differences

Asian mantises consist of two commonly found species: the Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) and the Mantis religiosa. In contrast, the native species found in the US is the Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina).

  • Chinese mantis: grows up to 5 inches, usually tan to pale brown with green/yellow striping1.
  • Mantis religiosa: often referred to as the European mantis, smaller in size.
  • Carolina mantis: grows up to 2.5 inches, comes in green, gray, and brown varieties2.

Asian Mantis vs Carolina Mantis
Asian Praying Mantis. Source: Flickr, by James St. John

Identification

Chinese Mantid vs Carolina Mantid

Key differences can help identify the Chinese mantid (Tenodera sinensis) from the Carolina mantid (Stagmomantis carolina):

  • Face plate: Carolina mantids have a more rectangular face plate, while Chinese mantids have a square one3.
  • Wings: In Carolina mantids, adult wings cover about two-thirds of their abdomen, while in Chinese mantids, they cover the whole abdomen3.
  • Spot on the front legs: Chinese mantids possess a large spot on the inside of their front legs near the body, while Carolina mantids do not3.

Comparison table:

FeatureChinese MantidCarolina Mantid
SizeUp to 5 inchesUp to 2.5 inches
ColorTan, pale brown, with green/yellow stripingGreen, gray, brown
Face plate shapeSquareRectangular
Wings coverageCovers whole abdomenCovers two-thirds of abdomen
Spot on front legsPresentAbsent

Habitat and Distribution

Native Regions

  • The Asian mantis (aka Chinese mantis), Tenodera sinensis, is native to eastern Asia, including China, Japan, and Korea.
  • In contrast, the Carolina mantis, Stagmomantis carolina, is a native species of North America, predominantly found in the southeastern United States.

Introduced Areas

  • The Asian mantis has been introduced to North America and other regions, primarily for pest management purposes, but its effectiveness is debatable.
  • The Carolina mantis typically remains within its native range.

Distribution in gardens is common for both mantids as they actively search for prey, making them natural pest control agents.

However, the Asian mantis is considered invasive in some areas.

Table: Comparison of Asian Mantis and Carolina Mantis

 Asian Mantis (Chinese Mantis)Carolina Mantis
Native toEastern AsiaNorth America
SizeLarger (up to 5 inches)Smaller (up to 2.5 inches)
IntroducedNorth America and other regionsNo substantial introduced range
In GardensCommonCommon
InvasiveIn some areasNo

In summary:

  • Both mantids are native to different regions: Asia for the Asian mantis, and North America for the Carolina mantis.
  • Both species are commonly found in gardens, but the Asian mantis is considered invasive in some places.
  • The Asian mantis is generally larger than the Carolina mantis.

Female Carolina Mantis

Physical Features and Coloration

Size and Shape

  • Carolina mantis: Native to the US, they are smaller in size, reaching about 2 inches in length when full grown with wings.
  • Asian mantis: Non-native species like the Chinese mantis are larger, with a size of 3 to 5 inches in length.

Their body shapes are also different, but both types have large, widely spaced eyes, and the ability to pivot their heads, helping them locate and capture prey.

Color Patterns

Carolina mantids usually display a dusty-brown color, which aids in their camouflage.

On the other hand, Asian mantids like the Chinese mantis have a color range of green to light-brown.

FeatureCarolina MantisAsian Mantis
Size2 inches3 to 5 inches
ColorDusty-brownGreen, light-brown

The colors mentioned are not exclusive; variations can occur within each species.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Mating

Both Asian and Carolina mantises engage in a mating process where the male approaches the female.

In general, the male praying mantis is more cautious, as the larger female mantis sometimes consumes the male during mating.

Egg Laying

  • Asian mantis: The female Chinese mantis lays a larger egg case called an ootheca on various surfaces such as twigs, stems, rocks, or buildings.
  • Carolina mantis: The female Carolina mantis also lays an ootheca but it’s generally smaller in size.

Chinese Mantis

Hatching

Asian mantis:

  • Produces a larger number of eggs in each ootheca
  • Nymphs emerge after incubation

Carolina mantis:

  • Produces fewer eggs in each ootheca
  • Nymphs hatch and resemble small, wingless adults
FeatureAsian MantisCarolina Mantis
Egg case sizeLarger (called “ootheca”)Smaller ootheca
Egg-layingOn various surfacesOn twigs, stems, rocks
Number of eggsGenerally higherLower
Nymph appearanceWingless, resembling adultsWingless, resembling adults

Feeding Habits and Prey

Diet

Asian mantids, specifically the Chinese mantid, and Carolina mantids, both belong to the Mantodea order and share similar diets. These insects typically feed on:

  • Bees
  • Butterflies
  • Grasshoppers
  • Small reptiles
  • Amphibians

Their specialized front legs help them catch prey, which might also include beneficial pollinators and caterpillars.

Predators and Threats

Mantids face various predators and threats in their natural habitats. Some common predators include:

  • Birds
  • Hummingbirds
  • Spiders
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Snakes

Here’s a comparison table highlighting some differences between Asian and Carolina mantids.

FeatureAsian mantidsCarolina mantids
Size3 to 5 inches longAbout 2 inches long
ColorGreen and light brownDusty brown
OriginNon-native (invasive)Native

Carolina mantids, being a native species, have developed camouflage coloration that helps them blend in with their surroundings, making them less visible to predators and more effective in pest control.

On the other hand, Asian mantids, especially Chinese mantids, are considered invasive and have been sold commercially for pest management but seem to have little value in this regard.

The difference in size and coloration might play a role in their effectiveness, as well as their adaptation to local environments.

Immature, probably Chinese Mantis

Role in Ecosystem and Human Interaction

Pollination and Pest Control

The Carolina mantis and Asian mantis play essential roles in our ecosystems, particularly in pollination and pest control.

Although mantids, in general, are not primary pollinators, their presence indirectly promotes pollination by regulating arthropod populations.

Comparison Table

FeatureCarolina MantisAsian Mantis
Pollination RoleIndirectIndirect
Pest ControlYesYes
Native StatusNative to North AmericaNon-native (invasive)

As Pets

Mantises are fascinating insects and have gained popularity as pets. Their unique appearance and interesting behavior make them desirable for enthusiasts.

  • Larvae growth: Both Carolina and Asian mantis species grow throughout the summer, usually molting five to ten times in captivity before reaching adulthood.
  • Captivity environments: Both mantis species require a temperature-controlled environment with proper humidity and access to food sources such as flies and crickets.

Pros and Cons of Keeping Mantises as Pets

Pros:

  • Easy to care for: Mantises are low-maintenance pets requiring simple habitats and feeding routines.
  • Educational: Observing mantises up close provides an opportunity to learn about insect behavior and growth.

Cons:

  • Short lifespan: Mantises typically live for only one season, making it necessary to obtain a new pet each year.
  • Ethical concerns: Non-native mantis species like the Asian giant hornet can disrupt local ecosystems, especially when released into the wild (e.g., around Philadelphia). It is important to consider the potential impact on native species when keeping non-native insects as pets.

Overall, mantises play vital roles in ecosystems as pest controllers and have become fascinating pets for those interested in observing insect behavior.

However, always consider the potential impact on native ecosystems and follow responsible pet-keeping practices.

Female California Mantis

Myths and Misconceptions

The Asian Mantis and the Carolina Mantis are often subjects of misconceptions. Many people believe these mantises to be indistinguishable from each other. However, there are some key differences between them.

  • Both the Carolina Mantid and the Asian Mantis can be beneficial predators. The latter, though, is considered invasive.
  • The internet can sometimes perpetuate these misconceptions. Fact-checking through credible sources is essential.
  • The native Carolina Mantid’s abdomen is generally slimmer than the Asian Mantis’.
  • People might incorrectly assume that all mantises found in the wild are of the native species.
  • Both mantids can be spotted during spring. Not all springtime observations can be classified as a particular species.

A comparative table of Asian Mantis and Carolina Mantis helps clarify their differences:

 Asian MantisCarolina Mantis
OriginAsiaNorth America
SizeLarge, up to 5″Smaller, around 2.5″
ColorGreen or brownGray, green, or brown
AbdomenWider and rounderSlimmer and narrower
Presence in the wildWidespreadNative to North America

Some misconceptions may arise from the presence of other species, such as the narrow-winged mantis.

It is another non-native species that coexists with the Carolina and Asian mantises.

It is crucial to base our understanding of these fascinating insects on accurate information.

So, let’s appreciate these creatures for their unique characteristics and roles in their respective ecosystems.

Immature Chinese Mantis

Conclusion

In conclusion, Asian mantises (Tenodera sinensis) and Carolina mantises (Stagmomantis carolina) differ in several ways.

Asian mantises are larger, measuring up to 4.3 inches, while Carolina mantises are smaller, around 2.5 inches.

Asian mantises have a distinct color range from green to brown, blending with their surroundings, while Carolina mantises are typically light brown with a narrow, green line along the edge of their wings.

Asian mantises exhibit a more aggressive behavior, preying on larger insects, while Carolina mantises are calmer and feed on smaller prey.

These variations highlight their diverse characteristics and ecological roles.

Footnotes

  1. Illinois Extension 
  2. Illinois Extension 
  3. NC State Extension  2 3

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts

4 thoughts on “Asian Mantis vs Carolina Mantis: Intriguing Battle of the Bugs”

  1. That Mantid Will probably be disappointed over his meal. Monarchs eat milkweed,which is poisonous,plus the warning colors should have stated that it wouldnt taste very good. Well you learn from mistakes.

    Reply
  2. I kept a few praying mantis alive from October into mid February. There’s no question about the life cycle, but you can extend their life. Be sure to “mist them” every other day, so they have enough water. Mine seemingly drank the droplets off their bodies. Also be sure that the crickets you buy are eating a balanced diet. For variety, I often caught camel crickets in the basement to feed them. Another thing I did was to give them lots of free roam. They were allowed to go anywhere in my house. Good Luck!

    Reply

Leave a Comment