Interesting Facts About the Praying Mantis

by | Oct 10, 2018

One of our associates was in North Carolina a couple weeks ago and came across a very large praying mantis. So what is a praying mantis and are they beneficial? If you’d like to learn a little more about the praying mantis, read on.

Common Name: Praying Mantis – Inspired by the Greek word mantikos during the 1830s. The praying mantis was named because of it’s posture and front legs. They extend in such a way it appears to be in a prayer position. The Greek origin of the word mantikos means prophetic or touched by divine madness.

Taxonomy:
Scientific Name: Mantis religiosa
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mantodea
Family: Mantidae

About the Praying Mantis

This is a very impressive, alien-like, cannibalistic, predatory insect. The mantis a carnivore that eats other insects. If hungry enough, the female will devour their mate during or after coitus. More often than not, the male praying mantis becomes the meal of the female mantis.

These insects are built in such a way that they camouflage and blend in with leaves and twi. This allows them to patiently stalk other insects. They are considered one of nature’s perfect predators.

Don’t be fooled by how slow they move around, they are very fast when ready to strike. The can fly, jump, and strike in a blink of an eye. They’ll attack insects and rodents up to 3 times their size. They’ll eat mice, snakes, turtles, and small birds.

Answers to Common Questions about the Praying Mantis

Is the Praying Mantis an endangered specie?

From the 1950s, rumors had circulated that the praying mantis is an endangered specie. Some believed it was illegal to kill them, but it’s an urban myth. In North America there are more than 20 species of the mantis and none are listed as endangered.

Does Seeing a Praying Mantis Mean Anything?

It’s been said that the praying mantis is a spiritual symbol of stillness and patience. This insect is elegant, mindful and very contemplative in it’s movements. Seeing one in nature should remind us of how important it is to practice in our daily lives. The praying mantis is known for it’s pre-strike pose which is a popular symbol of patience and balance.

What is a Praying Mantis Good for?

People will buy praying mantises for their gardens and farms as a natural method of pest control. Since it eats bugs, they’re often welcomed or even purchased for pest control in gardens. But, they’re also known to attack and eat hummingbirds (which isn’t a good thing).

Will a Praying Mantis Bite a Human?

These insects are one of the most non-aggressive carnivores in nature. They also have no known venomous species and are not interested in humans. Yet, they display a deadly behavior when attacking prey, or provoked by any predator. If you pick up a praying mantis, do so from behind so they cannot attack you. Under certain circumstances they will bite a human and while it may hurt, it’s not going to make you sick or die. If provoked, they will fight back and considering the size of the insect, it can be scary if nothing else.

Remember, a praying mantis is a fearless predator. They have razor sharp spikes on their front legs that could puncture your skin if you provoke them.

Are Praying Mantises Cannibals?

Female praying mantises have the deadliest, cannibalistic, tendencies. If the female mantis is hungry enough, will devour their male partner during or after coitus. The male is an easy meal for the female mantis. This act is considered ‘sexual cannibalism’.

Does a Praying Mantis Kill Bees?

Since the mantis is a general, carnivorous predator, yes they have been known to eat bees. They prey on any an all bees, including honey bees. Bees do try to stay clear of the Praying Mantis but sometimes it’s just not possible.

Do Praying Mantises Eat Hummingbirds?

It will wait and attack a hummingbird while it’s feeding on a flower or even at a feeder. This ferocious insect waits patiently, until it can attack the hummingbird. Once the hummingbird is captured, the mantis slowly eats along the neckline. It continues to devour the entire flesh of the hummingbird

Interesting Facts About the Praying Mantis

Exceptional Vision – They can see in 3D and have the ability to focus and track their prey with accuracy and acuity. They feel as though they make eye contact and will keep that eye contact as you move from side to side. It’s the only insect that can rotate its head 180 degrees.

Patient and Precise – The praying mantis is extremely patient and makes every move count. It attacks its prey with precision, and rarely makes a mistake. Once they’re ready to strike, it’s extremely fast and accurate.

Masters of Disguise – Most mantises are either green or brown. They can easily blend into leaves and sticks, remaining completely still and patient.

Eat Live Food – Mantis likes their food alive and moving which makes them great for garden pest control.

Disrupt the Food Chain – While the mantis seems like a good insect, they don’t stop at eating insects. They will eat bees and hummingbirds as well. They’ll eat almost anything that isn’t more than three times larger than themselves. Their prey includes snakes, small robins, frogs, lizards, mice, and more.

Predators – They do have predators including birds, lizards, spiders, and bats. They can detect bats as they approach and dive to ground. If caught by any predator they go down fighting, no fear, slashing their way to freedom if possible.

Are Praying Mantises Beneficial?

Is the praying mantis a pest? Most people think so but that’s debatable. While the praying mantis can be a form of pest control, they have no way of knowing the difference between beneficial and non-beneficial insects. It simply eats them all, including bees and hummingbirds. As predators of almost any insect, there’s instances where the Praying Mantis does more harm than good.

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