A Praying Mantis

The "Praying Mantis" is a fascinating creature to observe. They do not bite humans, damage household furnishings, or spread disease.

Praying mantids are predators. They eat a variety of insects and they will eat each other. The mantid is able to hunt at night and will feed on moths. It is fast enough to catch and hold on to mosquitoes and flies.

The front legs of mantids are highly specialized. The spines on the legs help the mantid hold on to its prey. When hunting, mantids assume a "praying" position. The mantid at the right has its legs folded under its head and is ready for an insect or other small prey to land.

Praying Mantis Waiting for its next meal

You can see that the mantid in the photo above is keeping a close eye on the photographer!

Does the female praying mantis eat the male?

A: Yes. After mating (sometimes even during mating), the female eats the male. Most entomologists think it's because if the female eats the male, she gets a big boost of nutrition so she has enough energy to produce her eggs.

Praying Mantis Egg CaseIn autumn, females lay eggs in a large mass (an inch or so long), in a frothy, gummy substance glued to tree twigs, plant stems and other objects (the egg case shown at the right was "glued" to the side of our Extension office building last fall).

Overwintering occurs in the egg stage in this case. Up to 200 or more tiny nymphs emerge from the egg mass in the spring or early summer - they look just like the adults except they are very, very small. It is hard to believe that they will grow to be 3-4" long in a short time.

If you want to encourage mantids and other beneficial insects in the yard and garden, limit the use of pesticides. Encourage these fascinating creatures by allowing some plants to grow for them to hide and hunt in.

The information above was compiled from the following resources. Visit these sites to LEARN MORE:

Praying Mantis - Ohio State University

Praying Mantids - University of Kentucky

Center for Insect Science Education Outreach The University of Arizona

Guess the photo - Click hereThis Can You Guess It?? photo was featured in the June 2004 NEBLINE Newsletter. Find the Answer HERE.

To read the June 2004 NEBLINE Newsletter, visit HERE


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