Currently viewing the category: "Preying Mantis"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Mating California Mantids at our porch light
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
Date: 09/28/2018
Time: 11:30 PM PDT
Daniel was up late sitting in the kitchen when a large Walnut Underwing caused him to go outside with the camera.  There has been a female California Mantid at the porch light for a few weeks now, and she has been getting fat eating moths and other insects that are attracted to the light.  Well, seems she attracted a mate, and true to her expected behavior, she bit off his head to ensure their coupling would be successful.  The next morning, the corpse was gone.  Did she finish her meal as a post-coital snack?  The female California Mantid living at the porch light last season was not so lucky.  Daniel is thinking of moving her to the plum trees where she will have numerous choices where to lay her oothecae.

Mating California Mantids

Update:  September 29, 2018
Daniel did move the Mantis to the plum trees with the hope she will lay her oothecae there.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Unusual bug near swimming pool
Geographic location of the bug:  Long Beach CA
Date: 09/23/2018
Time: 03:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there,
I was picking up leaves on concrete near our pool and I found this beautiful insect, who almost looked like another leaf or flower.
Thanks for any ideas as to his or her identity.
How you want your letter signed:  Moira

Decapitated Male Mantis

Dear Moira,
This is a decapitated Preying Mantis, and it appears to have been a male.  It might be a male European Mantis, which is pictured on BugGuide.  We can’t think of any real predators (eliminating house cats that do not generally need to hunt to survive) that would eat the head and leave the more nourishing and palatable body behind.  There is much documentary evidence of a female Mantis eating the head of a male that is mating with her.  Though his head is gone, he still goes through the mechanical actions of mating as pictured in this image from our archives of mating Mantids.

Dear bug man,
Thanks for the insight. Wow, that realization certainly ruined my Sunday, not to
mention the mantis’s. I researched how it could still be sentient. It obviously was able to think, because before I knew what it was, I thought it looked parched and dazed. So I poured a tablespoon of water into a dead leaf ‘vessel’ in front of it, and spilled the same amount onto the concrete next to where it stood, which seeped over to its right feet. It reacted by carefully moving its feet out of the water. It was as though it did need water but couldn’t drink it. Two people on Instagram then told me what it was and one of them speculated it was a post-mating male. It even seemed to have eyes, looked at from the front, but now I know otherwise. I read that mantii can survive decapitated and half-eaten for up to six days. Then I researched invertebrates ability to feel pain, concluded that they do feel pain. I went back to it and it was being eaten by ants. I moved it to another garden location, but a couple ants still clung to it. I asked my husband later if it would have been kinder to have killed it and put it out of its misery. He thought so. By then it was dark, we were walking the dog, and it would have been hard to find. If I ever come across this again, is there a humane way to assist an insect in dying? Thanks again Moira
There is no need to feel bad about what happened to the male Mantid.  Since this happens so frequently, it must be advantageous to the survival of the species.
Thanks Mr. Marlos.
I am amazed by nature. I’ll try to stop feeling bad about this one’s curtain call. As you told me, that’s normal behavior for this species. At least its children had an advantage getting started in life.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed. Note:  Mel Frank sent us this romantic couple of native Mantids in the genus Stagmomantis from his archives for your viewing pleasure.  We had been hearing about these images for some time and we are happy we are finally getting to post some Bug Love on a Woody Plant.  We are not sure if they are California Mantids or Bordered Mantids as both species are found in Southern California.

Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 09/16/2016
Time: Dusk
How you want your letter signed:  Mel Frank

Mating Mantids

Mating Mantids

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Stick Mantis or Stick Insect?
Geographic location of the bug:  Evergreen Park, IL (Chicago area)
Date: 08/15/2018
Time: 11:57 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  My boyfriend found this friend just outside our front door! I immediately thought stick insect, though I wasn’t aware, at the time, that we had any in the Midwest. He called Mantis, and I had to agree, especially considering that face/head.
It seemed a tiny bit shy.
I’ve searched the site here, and there was a picture of an Indian stick mantis that looked close. But, we’re pretty far from India!
From other pictures and posts on your site, it doesn’t seem to be a Western nor Eastern walking stick, since those don’t appear to have such a prominent (and adorably contemplative!) head.
What is this bug? Is it from a far away land? Or is it a native to these Chicago suburbs?
(I have some video, if that would help or you would like to see it – just let me know!)
How you want your letter signed:  Krissy Klabacha

Immature Chinese Mantis

Dear Krissy,
This is an immature Chinese Mantis,
Tenodera sinensis sinensis, and as its name indicates, it is Asian in origin, but it has been introduced to North America where it has naturalized, and indeed, in much of its introduced range, it is the most common Mantis found because it is sold (in the ootheca or egg case stage) as a biological control for insects in the garden.  According to BugGuide:  “Tan to pale green. Vertically striped face. Forewings tan with green along front margin. Compound eyes chocolate-brown at sunset, pale tan soon after sunrise and during the day.”  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.  BugGuide also states:  “Introduced from China. Was first collected in Pennsylvania in 1896. Later it was introduced to other states to combat pests. It is thought to outcompete many of the native preying mantises, which are in decline.  It is sold as pest control, although its effectiveness is not proven. It is thought that Chinese mantis eats the smaller native mantids. This may have led to declines in population numbers of the native mantis species in some areas, but none of them are listed as threatened at this time.  Egg cases are unmistakable.” See the Illinois Natural History Survey for information on Walkingsticks found in your area.

Thank you so much! You do such great work, and respond so quickly! I might have to look around the yard for any mantid egg cases. Are those the same as the hardened, almost walnut or Brazilian nut-looking cases found on tree branches? We’ve found one once before, a few years ago, but never identified the type of mantid it had once held.
Again, thank you for your help and for all of this info, including the link about local walkingsticks.
It’s so exciting to learn about all of the life that surrounds us, especially when it comes to creatures that I never knew were there! Here? There? Yes, here, there, and, in many cases, most everywhere.
Kris Klabacha, friend to all animals*

* I do not have warm feelings for ticks nor for lady mosquitoes. Ticks are my least favorite animal of all, even though it’s the diseases they spread/transmit that cause me to dislike them so.  Perhaps your site can help me make some sort of peace with ticks and mosquitoes? Is there a page for that? In the meantime, I keep reminding myself that mosquitoes feed bats, and I love having bats around!
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Dead Leaf Mantis?
Geographic location of the bug:  Pollock Pines, California
Date: 08/10/2018
Time: 03:50 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Bugman, we found this mantis in a pile of manzanita and other bush trimmings. It’s abdomen resembles a dead leaf, but is this a dead leaf mantis? Thanks in advance.
How you want your letter signed:  ~ John

Probably California Mantis

Dear ~ John,
This is an immature native Mantis in the genus
Stagmomantis, and we believe it is a California Mantis, Stagmomantis californicus, but we would not rule out that it is the very similar looking Bordered Mantis, Stagmomantis limbata, as their ranges overlap in California.  Both species come in brown and green forms, and the color tends to vary based on where they are living.  Green individuals are often found on fresh green growth while brown individuals are better camouflaged on drier plants.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.

You’re amazing. I knew it couldn’t be a dead leaf, but what I couldn’t think of anything else to call it!  We’ve only ever found green ones in Pollock Pines.  This brown one fit right in with the bush clippings.  Thank you for your time and ID.  We love finding Mantises.
~ John
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Drama on my Sweet Sarah clone
Geographic location of the bug:  Mt. Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 08/04/2018
Time: 11:08 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
I hope you don’t mind that I keep sending pictures of the same two predators that have taken up residence on my Sweet Sarah clone.  The California Mantis was missing for a few days and then it reappeared looking quite a bit bigger.  I noticed this drama today.  What was really interesting was that as soon as she got close to the Green Lynx Spider, he leaped out of reach.  I haven’t found a single grasshopper on this plant, while I have to pick them off the rest of my crop.
How you want your letter signed:  Constant Gardener

California Mantis stalks Green Lynx Spider on a Woody Plant

Dear Constant Gardener,
Keep your images coming.  We applaud your organic gardening methods and natural pest control.  When an insect molts, it becomes much more vulnerable to attack, at least until its new exoskeleton hardens.  Since your California Mantis has grown, it must have molted, so it probably was in hiding until its new exoskeleton hardened sufficiently, explaining why it was missing for a few days. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination