The Preying Mantis and the Hummingbird

Subject: Preying Mantis hunting Hummingbirds
Location: Texarkana, AR
October 22, 2012 11:46 pm
I caught two different Preying Mantis on my hummingbird feeder this summer. At first, I didn’t think the mantis was intrested in the hummingbirds but when a bird would approach the feeder it would raise up on its back legs & follow the birds.  This summer I had 2 different mantis on my hummingbird feeder. I watched for a few minutes before realizing the mantis was hunting the hummingbirds.
Signature: Christine R. in AR

Preying Mantis and Hummingbird

Hi Christine,
Several years ago we posted some photos of a Preying Mantis feeding on a Hummingbird, but we must stress that we do not feel that is a common occurrence.  Those photos were taken in Illinois in October, and the Mantis appears to be a fully grown female Chinese Mantis, and large specimens can achieve a length of over four inches in our own experience, though many internet sites are more conservative, including BugGuide that lists the size as “58+ mm” which does not indicate an upper limit.  A fully grown female Chinese Mantis is significantly bigger than many hummingbirds.  Your photo appears to be of a smaller Mantis, and if it tried to capture that hummingbird, it would have been wishful thinking.  Many Mantids will strike a defense posture if threatened, and we suppose the behavior you witnessed was more defensive than predatory.  As far as the Mantids hunting at your feeder, we speculate that it was preying upon insects like bees, wasps, and flies that might also be attracted to the sugary water.  Though we are amused that you adopted our spelling of Preying Mantis rather than the more acceptable Praying Mantis, we want to warn you that, pursuant to a comment we have received on a posting dealing with the “correct” spelling of the name, we have been referred to as arrogant as well as:  “ignorant, silly, childish.”  

Preying Mantis and Hummingbird

Thank you for your information. I took these pictures in August on my patio. The 1st occurrence was just this one mantis (in my pictures). After I watched for a few minutes and saw that the hummingbirds would not feed with the mantis on the feeder I relocated it with a broom. Next afternoon I walked out and there were 2 mantis on the feeder: a large one (same size as the previous day) at the top and a smaller one hanging from the bottom. Both were relocated away from the feeder and did not return.
Christine R. in Southeast AR


2 thoughts on “The Preying Mantis and the Hummingbird”

  1. My father raised me to refer to them as “prEying” because they visibly are hunting. Although a mantis may appear to prAy, we all know they can’t prAy….they are actually hunting. My father also corrects me when I refer to May Beetles as June Bugs. It is VERY common in our area (N/E TX & S/W AR) to call a May Beetle a June Bug and Dad continually corrects the grandchildren (and me) of their correct name.

    • Your dad is our kind of guy. We also prefer the predatory and secular name Preying Mantis to the more commonly used name Praying Mantis. We once read that the only thing a Mantis would pray for is its next meal.


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