Killing Machine: Are Praying Mantis Beneficial to Your Garden?

Video Update #2 from Dave Moore: Mantis hatching from an ootheca. Thank you Dave!

Update: Kathy Chapman shares this great video ~  Thanks Kathy!

Chinese Mantis Tenodera aridfolia sinensis ©Kim Smith 2013 copy

Chinese Mantis ~ Mantises have two spiked forelegs called “raptorial legs” that are used for grasping and securing captured prey.

The Truth About Praying Mantises ~

Are praying mantis beneficial to your garden? Yes and no, depending on which species of mantis you are referring. There are over 20 species native to the United States however, the mantises seen most frequently in our region are the European Mantis (Mantis religiosa) and the Chinese Mantis (Tenodera aridfolia sinensis), which were introduced to the United States in 1895  as biocontrols against other insects. They are generalist feeders and are not very effective at pest control. Mantids eat the hummingbird and bee as well as the pest. They also eat each other! The Chinese and European Mantises are fascinating creatures, but I would not purchase and release them into my garden. Chinese Mantis egg cases are easy to find in the fall. Look for the cases (called ootheca) in fields of goldenrod and Rosa rugosa.

Chinese Mantids have trianular-shaped heads with large compound eyes and three simple eyes between the antennae. Much research has been conducted on mantis eyesight. As do most mammalian predators, the mantis is capable of full stereoscopic vision and they are the only insects able to rotate their head a full 180 degrees.

Chinese Mantis Tenodera aridfolia sinensis -2 ©Kim Smith 2013. copy

In the second photo you can see the Chinese Mantis’s head is pivoting backward at a very narrow angle!

Click once to enlarge the image, and then click again to magnify.

Interesting note ~ A type of kung fu called Praying Mantis Kung Fu was developed in the Shandong province in the mid-16oos, and is said to be inspired by the quick movements and hunting techniques of the Chinese Mantis.

About Kim Smith

Currently creating documentary films about the Monarch Butterfly, Black Swallowtail Butterfly, and Gloucester's Feast of St. Joseph. Landscape designer for the Gloucester Harbor Walk Gardens. Designer, lecturer, author, illustrator, photographer. Visit my blog for more information about my landscape and interior design firm- Good Morning Gloucester daily contributor. Author/illustrator "Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden"
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7 Responses to Killing Machine: Are Praying Mantis Beneficial to Your Garden?

  1. schooner39 says:

    Very interesting! Thanks Kim.

  2. Beautiful photos Kim…after (and while) they mate, the female praying mantis devours the male’s head for the fastest high energy meal around, to assure her eggs mature quickly. Wild, huh?

    • Kim Smith says:

      Yikes!! Great video Kathy and thank you for sharing. I had only read about this and think I want to unsee, especially the part where she eats the male’s head, while copulating!

  3. Dave Moore says:

    These folks are super eating machines and there are allot of them in the roadways now as they like the warm asphalt as it gets cooler- snakes and others also! I am constantly putting them off to the side of road when I walk this way but they just find their way back. Otherwise the vehicles get them (Road Kill). Lot’s in egg sacks.

    May like this also?
    Praying Mantis Egg Sack – Hatching

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