What does a praying mantis eat?
July 27th, 2017 by Mike MacDonald in Pest Control Services
The Praying Mantis most likely isn’t in your backyard, but if they are, they can be used as natural pest control, and some people even keep them as pets. They are a unique insect, and this post is answers the question of what exactly does a praying mantis eat, and covers some interesting facts you might not know about the praying mantis.
What does a praying Mantis eat? Do they eat bugs, fruit, nectar?
The Praying Mantis is a carnivore, but it isn’t a very picky eater. As long as it’s alive and moving it’s fair game for a Praying Mantis.
Typically, a Praying Mantis will increase the size of the creatures it feeds on as it grows. Oftentimes they start off with smaller prey like fruit flies, larva, worms, or other small insects.
When a Praying Mantis does become fully grown, they eat an even wider variety of prey. They have been known to feed on large insects, lizards, amphibians, fish, small mammals and even birds!
The Praying Mantis has been known to be cannibalistic, and when food is scarce they even eat their own kind. They prefer raw live food or nothing at all as a Praying Mantis won’t eat things that are dead like scavenging insects do.
Using a Praying Mantis as pest control
There are some pros and cons to using a Praying Mantis as pest control in your home or garden. A Praying Mantis will eat pretty much anything that moves that is small enough for them to eat.
This means it can effectively eat some of the most difficult and pesky pests that attack your home and garden. Starting from aphids, and worms as they are growing into full size on up to larger pests.
The downside to using a Praying Mantis as pest control is that they don’t discriminate between eating helpful insects and ones that are pests. There could be other helpful insects that are also aiding as pest control in your garden, and a Praying Mantis will eat them as well.
How to keep a Praying Mantis safe in your garden
Mantids are great predators and do a lot of good to get rid of pests, unfortunately they don’t have a lot in the way of defenses to keep themselves safe from other, larger predators.
As a female Praying Mantis lays her eggs, they are usually encased by a protective cover that can protect the eggs over the winter. They often lay them on twigs or branches of trees and sometimes on man made structures like sheds or walls around your garden.
Unfortunately, they can end up falling on the ground and can be quickly destroyed by ants and other pests. Each egg sack, known as an ootheca, can carry up to 200 eggs and when hatched can protect a large area of up to several thousand square feet.
If you find any of their oothecae be sure to place them in a safe area where other pests can’t reach them. You can safely transport them to a covered or safe area like a shed where other predators can’t reach as they could in your garden for example. The new mantids hatch after about 10-15 days of warm weather so you can store them outside if it’s colder out and make sure they don’t hatch inside during the winter.
The adult Praying Mantis of most species also has wings, so if you are choosing to have them inside your home they aren’t always the best forms of pest control as they can try and escape. Male Praying Mantises seem to be able to fly better than females, but they both have wings.
You may already have Praying Mantises in your garden. If you do, be careful about applying pest control products on your own to eliminate pests. One inappropriately aimed spray could end up taking out all of the natural forms of pest control and kill off any Praying Mantis that could be in your garden.
Overall, the Praying Mantis can be an interesting form of natural pest control, but in most cases they really only work in outdoor settings and they can be hard to maintain and keep year after year as an effective means of pest control.
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