What Do Praying Mantis Eat? A Quick Guide to Their Diet

Praying mantises are fascinating insects, known for their distinct appearance and their role in maintaining a healthy garden ecosystem. They serve as natural pest control by actively searching for their prey using their keen vision. Now, let’s explore what these intriguing creatures feast on.

As a predator, the praying mantis consumes a variety of insects and other arthropods. Their diet mainly consists of aphids, flies, grasshoppers, and other small insects. In some instances, mantises will even eat other members of their own species. So the next time you spot a praying mantis in your garden, rest assured it’s hard at work keeping the insect population in check.

Interestingly, their hunting strategy revolves around great camouflage, blending seamlessly into their surroundings to ambush unsuspecting prey. Their spiny front legs help them grasp and hold their prey firmly, ensuring a successful hunt. With such an efficient way of controlling unwanted pests, you can appreciate these helpful insects for their contribution to a thriving, balanced garden environment.

Praying Mantis Species

When you encounter praying mantids, it’s essential to know that they are part of a larger group of insects known as mantids. There are about 1,800 different species within the mantids family, each showcasing distinct features.

Some commonly seen praying mantis species include the Chinese mantis, the narrow-winged mantis, and the European mantis, all of which are introduced species outside their native regions. Their habitats differ, but one thing they all have in common is their appetite for insects and even small vertebrates.

Mantises vary in size, with most ranging between two to six inches in length, but larger species can grow significantly bigger. These fascinating creatures possess unique hunting skills and a camouflaged appearance, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings seamlessly.

Here are some characteristics of mantises:

  • Typically green or brown
  • Can change colors after molting
  • Adult mantises have wings
  • Possess spiny front legs used for grasping prey

In terms of their diet, praying mantises are voracious predators who feed on a wide range of insects and some small vertebrates. Their hunting strategy involves patiently waiting for prey to come too close before launching a lightning-fast ambush.

When exploring the world of praying mantis species, you’ll find they are not only captivating creatures but also beneficial for controlling insect populations. Remember to appreciate their unique characteristics and role in the ecosystem when you observe them in their natural habitat.

What Do Praying Mantis Eat

Praying mantids are fascinating insects with a unique appearance and intriguing feeding habits. They are known to eat various types of insects, which make up the majority of their diet. As a predator, mantids actively search for their prey visually, resulting in a diverse diet that includes both harmful pests and beneficial insects.

In your garden, praying mantids may eat aphids, grasshoppers, bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and other insects *. However, introducing them into your garden doesn’t guarantee pest control, as they also consume beneficial insects. This indiscriminate eating behavior may lead to unpredictable effects on your garden’s ecosystem.

The praying mantis diet does not discriminate between good and bad insects. To give you a better idea of what they might consume, here’s a list of some insects that praying mantids eat:

  • Aphids
  • Grasshoppers
  • Bees
  • Butterflies
  • Ladybugs

Depending on the species and size of the mantid, their prey can vary. Some larger mantids are known to eat small vertebrates, such as lizards, frogs, or even small birds. While it’s true that these predators can help control pest populations, it’s essential to remember that they may also disrupt the balance in your garden ecosystem by consuming beneficial insects.

In conclusion, praying mantids are fascinating creatures with diverse diets. Though they can help control pests in gardens, their indiscriminate feeding habits can also have unintended consequences, such as consuming beneficial insects. Keep the balance in your garden in mind when considering introducing praying mantids to your outdoor space.

Predatory Behavior

Hunting Technique

Praying mantids are excellent hunters. They actively search for their prey visually and rely on their highly developed front legs to capture and hold their victims. These legs have sharp spines that grasp and pin down any insect that gets too close. As carnivores, their diet consists of various insects such as flies, crickets, and sometimes even small vertebrates like lizards.

You can think of mantids as effective pest controllers in your garden, as they hunt down insects that could be harmful to your plants. However, keep in mind that they are not too picky about their meals, so they might also catch insects that are beneficial to the ecosystem, such as pollinators and butterflies.

Camouflage

A key factor that contributes to mantids’ hunting success is their camouflage. They can change colors after molting to blend in with their surroundings, making it difficult for both their prey and possible predators to see them. The mantids’ body coloration typically ranges from green to brown, perfectly imitating the appearance of leaves or sticks.

In addition to their color changes, mantids possess the incredible ability to rotate their triangular heads to see in all directions. This head movement, combined with their stealthy camouflage, allows them to observe their environment and spot unsuspecting prey without being noticed themselves.

To sum up, praying mantids demonstrate remarkable predatory behavior with their efficient hunting techniques and effective camouflage. While these insects can aid in pest control, they might also feast on insects that are beneficial to your garden. Nevertheless, their fascinating behavioral traits and unique appearance make them an intriguing sight to witness and appreciate.

Prey of Praying Mantis

Insects

Praying mantises primarily feed on a variety of insects. Some common insect prey they consume include:

  • Flies: They catch them while flying or while resting on surfaces.
  • Crickets: Their camouflage allows them to attack crickets hiding in the grass.
  • Spiders: Mantises are known to consume spiders, including larger species.

Some other insects that praying mantises feed on are ants, bees, beetles, and worms. They are also known to eat grasshoppers, cockroaches, and mosquitoes.

Small Mammals and Reptiles

While insects make up the majority of their diet, praying mantises have been known to prey on small mammals and reptiles as well. Here are a few examples:

  • Small birds: They have been observed catching small birds mid-flight and consuming them.
  • Bats: In rare instances, mantises have been seen preying on bats by catching them while they are perched.
  • Rodents: Some larger species of mantises may consume small rodents if the opportunity arises.
  • Frogs and lizards: Mantises also prey on small frogs and lizards, often grasping them with their spiny front legs.

In conclusion, praying mantises have a diverse diet that primarily consists of insects; however, they occasionally consume small mammals and reptiles. This opportunistic feeding strategy allows them to survive and thrive in a wide range of environments.

Habitat and Feeding

Praying mantids can be found in various habitats, such as wild environments and gardens. They are well camouflaged, often changing colors after molting to blend in with the plants they live near. Their primary habitat consists of areas where they can easily find prey, like gardens with numerous insects.

In your garden, these fascinating insects are considered natural pest control. While they do eat garden pests like aphids and grasshoppers, it’s essential to keep in mind that they also may consume bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and other beneficial insects. Releasing mantids into your garden isn’t a guarantee for pest control extension.

Their feeding habits are quite fascinating. With a triangular head and bulging compound eyes, mantids have excellent vision, allowing them to actively search for prey. One characteristic feature of the praying mantis is its spiny and powerful forelegs, which are designed for grasping and holding prey. When they catch an insect, these forelegs quickly close to trap and hold their meal firmly before consuming it mdc.

If you are interested in providing a suitable habitat for praying mantids, make sure to include:

  • A variety of plants for them to hide and hunt on
  • Sources of water, like shallow dishes or bird baths, for them to drink from
  • Avoiding pesticide use in the garden, as this may harm mantids and their prey
  • Tolerating some level of pests, as an overly sterile garden may not support mantids’ dietary needs

By creating a welcoming environment for mantids, you can benefit from their fascinating presence while supporting a natural balance of predators and prey in your garden.

Praying Mantis in Captivity

When you decide to keep a praying mantis as a pet, it’s essential to provide an appropriate living environment and diet for your new friend. In captivity, mantids need a carefully maintained habitat that offers plenty of space, proper temperature, and humidity levels.

To ensure your mantis’ comfort, select an enclosure at least three times the length and twice the width of the mantis. This allows for ample room to move, hunt, and molt. Your habitat should include accommodations such as:

  • Ventilation for fresh air
  • Foliage or branches for climbing and hiding
  • A heat source to maintain a temperature between 70-90°F (21-32°C)
  • Humidity control with daily misting or a humidity device

Praying mantids are voracious predators and will eat a variety of insects. In captivity, a mantis’ diet may include:

  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Crickets
  • Small grasshoppers

You can provide these live insects to your pet mantis to ensure they have a nutritious and stimulating diet. Feeding frequency depends on factors like the mantis’ age, size, and molt cycle. Generally, younger mantids need food daily, while adults can eat every 2-3 days.

Caring for a praying mantis in captivity can be rewarding, as you observe their unique hunting and mating behaviors. Just remember to provide them with a suitable habitat, varied diet, and consistent care for them to thrive in your care.

Praying Mantis Reproduction

When it comes to reproducing, praying mantids have some unique behaviors. Both females and males play important roles, and understanding their process can be quite fascinating.

First, let’s discuss mates. Female mantids can sometimes engage in sexual cannibalism, during which they eat their partners after or even during mating. This behavior might increase the female’s chances of producing healthy offspring, thanks to the additional nutrients obtained from her mate.

As for the eggs, a praying mantis female will create an egg case to protect her offspring. These cases are made of a foamy substance that hardens into a protective shell and can be laid on branches, leaves, or any other suitable surface. Each case contains a significant number of tiny eggs.

Here are some key points about the praying mantis reproduction process:

  • Females can engage in sexual cannibalism, eating their mates after mating.
  • Males are of course essential to the process as well, providing the genetic material needed for reproduction.
  • Females create egg cases to protect their offspring.
  • Egg cases can be found on various surfaces and contain many eggs.

To give you an idea on how females and males compare when it comes to praying mantis reproduction, let’s look at a simple comparison table:

Female Praying Mantis Male Praying Mantis
Engages in sexual cannibalism Risks being eaten by the female
Creates egg cases for offspring Provides genetic material for reproduction
Lays eggs in various locations Mates with the female before the process

As you can see, the praying mantis reproduction cycle is a fascinating and complex process. Both sexes have unique roles and behaviors, ensuring the survival and continuation of their species. So next time you spot one of these incredible insects, remember the intricate process they undergo to create the next generation of mantids.

Additional Information

Praying mantises are fascinating creatures with unique features and behaviors. They are known for their distinctive appearance and role in the ecosystem.

Size: Adult praying mantises generally range from 2 to 5 inches (5-12 cm) in length. Their size can be influenced by factors such as species and location 1.

Vision: These insects have excellent vision, thanks to their large, compound eyes. This allows them to spot prey from a distance and keep an eye on their surroundings 2.

Sense: Praying mantises have a keen sense of touch. Their modified front legs are not only used to hold prey but also serve as sensory organs, helping them navigate through their environment.

Temperature and humidity: Many praying mantis species can adapt to various climates, from arid regions of Africa to humid Asian forests, and temperate North American and European zones. Each species has its preferred temperature and humidity levels for optimal living conditions 3.

Behavior: Praying mantises exhibit intriguing behaviors. They primarily ambush predators and wait patiently for their prey to approach them. They are even known to consume beneficial insects 4 and occasionally small vertebrates.

To summarize, here are key characteristics of praying mantises:

  • Adult size ranges between 2-5 inches
  • Good vision and sense of touch
  • Adaptable to various climates
  • Ambush predators

Overall, observing praying mantises can provide us with a glimpse into the diverse and intricate natural world.

Footnotes

  1. UC Statewide IPM Program – Mantids, or Praying Mantises

  2. University of Maryland Extension – Praying Mantid (Mantis)

  3. Wisconsin Horticulture – Praying Mantids

  4. Idaho Fish and Game – May 2019 Praying Mantids

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Rare Mantis from Egypt: Heteronutarsus aegyptiacus

 

Subject: Desert runner
Location: White desert, Egypt
December 25, 2012 8:57 am
I encountered this creature in the Egyptian desert. It was about 3 centimeters long and running very fast, and I could only take one picture before it dissapeared. It looks like a nymph, but of what insect?
Signature: Theo Willems

Rare Egyptian Mantis

Hi Theo,
This looks to us like a Desert Pebble Mantis,
Eremiaphila zetterstedti.  Most Mantids lie in wait to ambush prey, but the Desert Pebble Mantis uses its chases its prey.  According to the Insect Store:  “They have incredible long legs which they use to run down their prey! Adults have tiny budwings because they never have the need to fly.”

Correction:  October 14, 2013
Draco wrote in to inform us that this is a rare Mantis,
Heteronutarsus aegyptiacus.

Letter 2 – Texas Unicorn Mantis

 

Subject:  Unusual mantid
Geographic location of the bug:  San Antonio, Tx
Date: 11/19/2017
Time: 06:58 PM EDT
We are having unusual weather (albeit weather varies by the hour here!) and a cold front blew through yesterday. I returned home this afternoon to this beautiful specimen outside my garage. This is not the normal plains mantid I am used to seeing around my house, and am marveling at how much larger it appears! Do you have any basic identification to send me to look at so I can tell my son a little about it?
How you want your letter signed:  Bug lover

Texas Unicorn Mantis

Dear Bug lover,
We believe based on this and some other BugGuide images, that this is a male mantis in the genus
Stagmomantis, and there are several members of the genus found in Texas.  This is a native genus, and compared to introduced species like the Chinese Mantis and the European Mantis, it is much smaller in size.  Furthermore, the males are smaller than the females.  We do not know the “plains mantid” to which you refer.  Can you please be more specific about the “plains mantid”?

Correction:  Texas Unicorn Mantis
We received a comment from Michael correcting our initial identification.  Enlarging the head revealed the “horn” we originally missed.

Letter 3 – Preying versus Praying?????

 

so how is it really spelled?
Help! I just bought a "bug" book for my 5 year old nephew and the spelling is different from what I learned. I was taught to spell: Preying mantis in my entomology class but on your web page it is spelled both ways and there is even a site that says although the insect does prey, it is pray. I really don’t want to give the little guy a book that is wrong so I really need to know. Thanks

Neither is truly correct as this is a common name. Scientific binomial names are the only true correct identifications.

Having taught comparative anatomy for over 25 years, I am well aware of scientific binomial names. You, however, do allow both spellings (which you now tell me are incorrect!) on your web site. I assumed that you would be able to tell me which (for a 5 year old!) would be the correct or preferred spelling for a common name. I will have to seek advice from another source.
Pam Rhyne, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Biology

There is no need to get snippy Pam. As you noticed, we use both spellings on our site. You didn’t even bother to ask if mantid was correct or if mantis is correct. When it comes to common names, as you are well aware because you teach comparitive anatomy, every language on the planet has a different common name for a creature and Eskimo people have over 200 words for snow, hence the reason for the scientific binomial system. In Norway, they call the preying mantis a “kneeler”. In a language as complex as English, and in a country as diverse as America where there are multiple dialects, one state might have a different name for the same object. In certain parts of the country, soda is called pop. We would hate to have to decide which is correct. At some point, preference must take precedance. We prefer “preying” because we like to distance ourselves from the religious connotation and believe it is more accurate to say that the creature does, in fact, prey, and without a question, does not pray, even though it appears to pray. The same might also be said of many of our religious leaders who merely appear to pray. When it comes to mantis over mantid, we make arbitrary decisions based on the other words in the sentence, most notably the word immediately following, and we base this decision solely on the audible sound. Not being parents, we hesitate to give parenting advice, but perhaps it is best to use this as a lesson in diversity or as an explanation that sometimes there is no one correct decision. Have a great day.

Letter 4 – Raising Mantises as pets!!!

 

mantis news
Hello!
We just found your site and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am sending you some pictures of our mantises from this past year. Believe it or not, we have two that are still alive and kicking into 2006! One is about 2 inches long and the other is a giant mantis about 4 inches long. This year our smaller mantis laid 8 egg sacs and the larger one has laid 3 giant sacs. My daughter is a big mantis fan and has kept them for pets for the past few years. This is the longest we have had them survive. Most die in Nov or early December. Every year we learn new things. This year we had two males and one female and wanted to see what would happen with two… it was very interesting! As you can see in the picture, both got on her back and hung out there, waiting their turn, so to speak, and it actually looked as if they were communicating with each other while waiting… funny. It was hard to get a picture with the two of them but I did my best. Thanks for your site!
Christine and Elena

Hi Christine and Elena,
Thank you for your wonderful New Year’s message. Your photos are a fabulous addition to our site.

Letter 5 – Silver Spotted Skipper

 

The bugman is awesome (and I need an ID)
Location: Northeast Tennessee
September 4, 2011 11:09 pm
Hey there! Your site has already helped me identify the house centipede. I’d like to know what exactly this is… growing up on a farm I’ve encountered a lot of these. My grandma always called these ”chicken poo butterflies” because they seem to have a fondness for the stuff. I was taking pictures in her flower garden one day and I came across one.
PS along with the moth/butterfly I’ve attached a photo I took of a praying mantis egg sac (I don’t know what you call it, just that mantises lay their eggs in it, I think)last December. I thought it looked neat and wanted to know if that was actually what it was.
Signature: Easily Fascinated

Silver Spotted Skipper

Dear Easily Fascinated,
When we read your letter, we immediately imagined an insect with the description you provided, and we thought for sure you would have a photo of a Pearly Wood Nymph, a moth that truly resembles chicken droppings.  This is actually a butterfly known as a Silver Spotted Skipper, 
Epargyreus clarus, and you may see additional photos on the Massachusetts Butterfly Club website.  You have correctly identified the Preying Mantis ootheca or egg case.

Preying Mantis Ootheca

 


Letter 6 – Snake Mantid from Australia

 

Australian Mantodea with yellow/red eyes?
February 11, 2010
This Praying Mantis (?) was hovering around me this morning, and then it landed close to me on our outside deck in Sydney. We see a lot of them here, but this one had such peculiar red striped eyes on yellow, with little black spots, as in an eye in an eye. I tried to find one like it on Brisbaneinsects website, with now luck. Any ideas?
Ridou Ridou
Sydney, Australia

Snake Mantid

Hi again Ridou,
This presented a bit of a challenge for us, but we are satisfied that we have identified your delicate green mantis as a Snake Mantid, Kongobatha diademata, but alas, though we have a name, and we know that the Snake Mantid is found in Australia, we were unable to locate any additional information.

Snake Mantid

We found a matching image on the Life Unseen website, and the aerial view nicely illustrates the yellow stripe on the thorax also found in your image.  We located a second photo with no accompanying data on a site called Members Optusnet, and that image illustrates eyes similar to those in your photos.

Snake Mantid

Letter 7 – South African Ghost Mantis

 

What are these bugs please
Dear Bugman,
I was wondering if you can tell me please, what this little guy is? It was wandering on the patio of our garden in South Africa, about 25miles north of Johannesburg. At first glance I thought that it was a leaf then realised that it might be a sort of Mantis? It remained in the garden for about two hours eventually climbing up onto a wooden table. It is less than two inches long. I have many more photographs of it if need be. Many thanks
Best regards from
Mrs Wendy Tomes
Johannesburg, South Africa

Hi Wendy,
We believe this is a Ghost Mantis, Phyllocrania paradoxa, based on a site we found online.

Letter 8 – Stagmomantis californica

 

California Mantis in Captivity

October 1, 2010
Last Wednesday, September 29, 2010, Daniel captured a female California Mantis, Stagomantis californica, that he saw on the front porch.  Daniel has been asked to appear on the morning news on Channel 5, but the appearance is contingent on him bringing live bugs for the amusement of the news team.  Since the appearance date has been pushed back a second time, Daniel now has to keep this “pet” California Mantis alive for a month, and he has been feeding her moths that are attracted to the porch light.  Hopefully, after the sun rises, Daniel will be able to take a photo of the pretty green gal that has been contentedly gobbling up moths for the past three days.

Letter 9 – Stal’s Hooded Leaf Mantis from Ecuador

 

Subject: struggling with this praying mantis
Location: Mindo Ecuador
April 11, 2015 7:31 pm
Hey Its Carl again from the night walks in the cloud forest Ecuador, …
Also struggling with this larvae and praying mantis.
Signature: Thanks Carl

Stal's Hooded Leaf Mantis
Stal’s Hooded Leaf Mantis

Hi again Carl,
We believe your Mantis is Stal’s Hooded Leaf Mantis,
Choerododis stalii, based on this FlickR image and verified on ZooPicture.

Letter 10 – 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

 

Letter 11 – Thistle Mantis from the Canary Islands

 

Subject: Unknown mantis
Location: Fuerteventura
December 20, 2015 12:43 pm
At around 6pm on December 15 2015 in a coastal town called Tuineje in Fuerteventura, me and my boyfriend walked out to the end of a concrete pier to watch the sun set. On a concrete wall we found this beautiful green and white mantis. It stayed there for the half an hour we were there and its only movement was to turn its head and it occasionally began to shake for a few seconds. It seemed very out of place on a pier out in the sea and it was almost as if it was there to watch the sunset! It was probably around 10 cm and had a beautiful ornate pattern of green and white on its back. I was wondering if you could tell me what type of mantis it is as Google doesn’t seem to be able to give a specific name. Thank you very much!
Signature: Louise

Thistle Mantis
Thistle Mantis

Dear Louise,
We have identified your mantis as a Thistle Mantis or Devil’s Flower Mantis,
Blepharopsis mendica, thanks to the Wildlife and Birding Destinations site where it states “It is found in north Africa, the Canary Islands, the southern Med and the Middle East.”  You can also read about the Thistle Mantis on the Keeping Insects website where it states:  “Blepharopsis mendica is a quiet species of praying mantis. They are good at catching flying insects. Relying on its camouflage it waits patiently until an unsuspecting prey comes along. This species is not very aggressive and can be intimidate by large prey. Blepharopsis mendica can show a deimatic display in which it will raise its wings and hold its forearms in a sideways way. In this posture the mantis looks very big and the bright colors on the inside of the forearms is visible. This is meant to scare away predators.”

Thistle Mantis
Thistle Mantis

Letter 12 – Two Different Preying Mantids: Male Chinese Mantis and Female European Mantis

 

Preying Mantis
Location: Somerville, MA
November 20, 2010 3:28 pm
Hi – I found this in my front yard in Somerville, MA on a perennial sunflower. I identified it as a preying mantis that shouldn’t be this far North, so I was wondering what you had to say about it. I found a second mantis on the same day that looked totally different that I couldn’t even locate in a guidebook. Will submit that one as well. It was late September, early afternoon.
Signature: Jess

Male Chinese Mantis

Second Somerville MA Preying Mantis
Location: Somerville, MA
November 20, 2010 3:29 pm
This one was fat and slow and brown all over. I could have picked it up and it wouldn’t have batted a buggy eyelash. I didn’t pick it up, btw.
Signature: Jess

Female European Mantis

Hi Jess,
We took the liberty of combining your two emails into one posting.  We agree that you probably have two different species of Mantids here, but the most obvious difference between them is that the smaller individual is a male and the larger individual is a female.  We believe both of your individuals are introduced species.  We believe the male is a Chinese Mantis,
Tenodera aridifolia sinensis.  According to BugGuide, it is:  “Tan to pale green. Forewings tan with green along front margin. Compound eyes chocolate-brown at sunset, pale tan soon after sunrise and during the day.”  BugGuide also indicates it is “Widely distributed in the U.S. due to the availability of commercially purchased egg-cases.”  We found a photo of a female European Mantis, Mantis religiosa, on BugGuide that is a very close match to your female, and BugGuide indicates:  “From “National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders” (1), p. 397:  This mantid was accidentally introduced in 1899 on nursery stock from southern Europe. At a time when Gypsy Moth Caterpillars were burgeoning in the eastern states, it was recognized almost immediately as a beneficial predator. However, mantids are so cannibalistic that they are rarely numerous enough to have much effect in depleting caterpillar populations.”  Any experts in Mantis identification are welcomed to confirm or correct our species identifications.

Male Chinese Mantis

Thank you so much! This has been somewhat of a local mystery now – to the point of one friend begging me to put these pups up on your site. I’m sure you can feel a general collective sigh of relief at our bugs having identities!

Letter 13 – Unidentified Mantis from Madagascar

 

Mantis from Madagascar
Hallo,
can anybody identify this Mantis? I found it near Andasibe in Madagaskar.
Thanks
Christian

Hi Christian,
We will post your image of this unidentified Mantis from Madagascar in the hopes that one of our readers can identify it.

I’m writing in response to the “Unidentified Mantis from Madagascar” posted on 12/30/2006. That photo appears to show an African Mantis, or Sphodromantis lineola.
Chris Webb

Letter 14 – Unidentified Mantis from United Arab Emirates

 

Subject: Mantis
Location: Desert Umm Al Quwain, United Arab Emirates
September 6, 2014 9:17 pm
Hi, can you identify this mantis…including gender?
Signature: Martin

Mantis
Mantis

Dear Martin,
While we are unable at this time to provide you with a species identification, we are guessing that due to the length of the wings and the narrowness of the body that this is a male Mantis.

Letter 15 – Unknown Mantis

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Dubbin, OH
August 31, 2016 1:36 pm
This bug was on my driveway basking in the sun. Appears to ha e two sets of wings? Or is it mating? The whole thing was about an inch long. Here is a pic. This was taken Today, August 31 in Dublin, OH
Signature: Lisa H

Mantis
Mantis

Dear Lisa,
This is a Preying Mantis, but we are not certain about the species.  One inch seems quite small for a North American species.  Of all the species represented on BugGuide, the closest visual match seems to be the Grizzled Mantis, but that is a Southern species not reported further north than South Carolina according to BugGuide.  This is a good BugGuide image that is similar to your own.

Letter 16 – Unknown Mantis from Colombia

 

Subject: Colombian Mantis ID?
Location: Medellin, Colombia
June 15, 2013 4:11 am
Hi,
My friend, Juan Pablo Silva, found and photographed this amazing mantis in the city centre of Medellin Colombia. He gave me permission to send it to entomology websites for identification obviously as long as I say he took the picture.
Here’s the flickr link to the mantis picture:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/juansilva93/9032495052/
thanks 🙂
Signature: Daniel M

Mantis from Colombia
Mantis from Colombia

Dear Daniel,
We do not recognize your friend’s Mantis, and we haven’t the time right now to search for its identity.  There are many Mantis aficionados in the world, and perhaps one of our readers will write in with an identification before we can do the research.

Update:  June 5, 2014
We just received a comment that this isseudovates peruviana, which can be viewed on the Mantes Exotiques forum.

Letter 17 – Unicorn Boxer Mantis from Pakistan

 

Praying mantis
March 18, 2010
Need help in correct identification of this species of praying mantis. They open their arm only when they walk, otherwise the look like you see in picture.
birdy
Pakistan

Unknown Preying Mantis

Hi Birdy,
We are posting your Preying Mantis, though we are unsure of the species.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in the identification.
We wonder, perhaps, it it might be a Dead Leaf Mantis, Deroplatys Dessicata, which is profiled on the Insect Store website.  We wish you had provided additional photos.  Websites with numerous mantis images include Mantis and Dragons and MantisUSA.

Ed. Note:  August 24, 2012
We just received a comment identifying this as a Unicorn Boxer Mantis,
Hestiasula brunneriana.

Reader Emails

4173

Letter 1 – Mantid from South Africa

 

Subject:  South Africa Preying Mantis
Geographic location of the bug:  South Africa, Kruger National Park
Date: 01/17/2018
Time: 05:48 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I saw this preying mantis a week ago (therefore in early January) near the Satara Camp in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. I have been trying to identify the majestic bug, but wasn’t able to. I would really appreciate your help.
How you want your letter signed:  Thomas

Mantid

Dear Thomas,
While we cannot provide you with an exact species at this time, we can tell you that the small wing pads indicate this is either an immature individual or a flightless species of Mantid.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mantis feeding on Tree Frog

 

Larvae of what?
Hi Mr. Bug Man,
Best regards,
H. Markarian
PS I’ve also attached a beautiful photo of a mantis gorging on a frog.

Dear H,
We wish you had included additional information on both of your images. Also, did you shoot the Mantis photo with the Tree Frog? Was it shot in the wild or in captivity? Where was the photo taken if in the wild? So many unanswered questions on a beautiful image.

Thanks for such a prompt reply to my last email. As regards the mantis eating the tree frog, both were caught from the wild separately and placed in the same container temporarily. We had no idea the mantis would be able to catch, hold and eat an animal much stronger and heavier than it was. I took the photo while the critters were in captivity. Thanks for your time and feedback. You have a fascinating website. Best Regards,
H. Markarian

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.

  • 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.

31 thoughts on “What Do Praying Mantis Eat? A Quick Guide to Their Diet”

  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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  2. Nice photo. Thanks for sharing. It looks like a leaf attach to a stem. We people should took care of our environments so that this kind of living creatures stays longer and its consanguine will continue to live in many decades, and also the next generation will see the beauty of nature.
    case colombia

    Reply
  3. Nice photo. Thanks for sharing. It looks like a leaf attach to a stem. We people should took care of our environments so that this kind of living creatures stays longer and its consanguine will continue to live in many decades, and also the next generation will see the beauty of nature.
    case colombia

    Reply
  4. I’m not positive, but this mantis looks a lot like the Texas Unicorn Mantis, Phyllovates chlorophaea. The information I’ve been able to collect indicates that Texas Unicorn Mantids range from Texas to northern South America, so it’s definitely possible. In any case, it’s a lovely specimen, and an excellent picture!

    Reply
  5. This is even more amazing mantis, Heteronutarsus aegyptiacus, closely related to Eremiaphila genus. You can see that it only has 3 tarsomeres instead of 4 or 5, like all other mantises (hence the name). It is also much more rare than most of Eremiaphila species. Despite its immature looking, it is definitely an adult, probably male.

    Reply
  6. Hi, I’m also from medellin Colombia and some years ago I had this same species as a pet … it’s beautiful … its is kind “pseudovates peruviana” … sorry but I translated the text, I do not speak very much English.

    Happy day.

    Diego Rios – diegorios0611@gmail.com

    Reply
  7. Hi, I’m also from medellin Colombia and some years ago I had this same species as a pet … it’s beautiful … its is kind “pseudovates peruviana” … sorry but I translated the text, I do not speak very much English.

    Happy day.

    Diego Rios – diegorios0611@gmail.com

    Reply
  8. Woah ! I wonder if it’s even a bug. At my first sight, I think it’s a leaf attached to it’s tiny branch of tree. But Nature is unpredictable. The bug is simply amazing. Thanks to the author for posting this and my regards to other commentators, for identifying this bug.
    Regards,
    play.google.com

    Reply
  9. Woah ! I wonder if it’s even a bug. At my first sight, I think it’s a leaf attached to it’s tiny branch of tree. But Nature is unpredictable. The bug is simply amazing. Thanks to the author for posting this and my regards to other commentators, for identifying this bug.
    Regards,
    play.google.com

    Reply
  10. My grandson, who is 7, and I were discussing this question so I “googled” and found your answer ( below other sites which gave “praying” as the “correct” spelling.). I really like your answer and reasoning however.

    Reply
    • Hi Cesar,
      We agree this mantis looks dead, but based on the submitted letter, it was still found on a driveway. It is definitely a real mantis, and it does not look like a species that should be found in Ohio naturally. Just because the mantis appears to be dead does not imply that the submission was in any way the perpetration of a hoax. It might have died, either of natural or unnatural causes, and then been discovered by Lisa H.

      Reply
  11. I was ordering a praying mantis sculpture online, and noticed that they spelled it “preying mantis”, which I believe(d) ? to be “incorrect”! I mentioned to my wife that it was misspelled and she disagreed. I turned to Google to once again settle an argument! I am quite sure that the most common convention is indeed “praying”, but after reading your delightfully witty and well educated response to Pam Rhyne, PhD ,Professor Emeritus of Biology, I am no longer so certain about which spelling I prefer. Well done!!

    Reply

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