Praying Mantis Beneficial Insect

Praying mantis
Praying mantis
Praying mantis

Praying mantids (plural praying mantis) are mostly beneficial insects.

Praying mantids eat aphids, asparagus beetles, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, earwigs, leafhoppers, Mexican bean beetles, and squash bugs. Praying mantids also eat beneficial insects, butterflies, and bees.

Attract praying mantids to the garden by planting shrubs and perennials that provide strong stems and branches in which praying mantids can shelter and attach their egg cases. Praying mantids do not consume pollen or nectar, but plants that produce pollen and nectar will attract insects that mantids eat.

Praying mantids are large, slender insects light brown or green up to five inches long with enlarged front legs and prominent eyes. Praying mantids have wings, but fly only to mate.

Female praying mantids lay eggs in spongy, grayish egg cases they attach to stems or twigs. Each case contains 50 to 400 eggs. Young mantids—they look like small adults but do not have wings–hatch in spring and begin feeding immediately.

Praying mantids do not stalk their prey; they ambush their prey. They sit and wait for a passing insects. They grip their prey with their enlarged forelegs and eat them live.

There is one generation of praying mantids each year. Mantids live 10 to 12 months.

Praying mantids can be found throughout North America. There are about 20 native species and several introduced species.

Scientific name: Mantis religiosa


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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