How To Attract Praying Mantids To Your Garden

 How To Attract Praying Mantids To Your Garden

Praying mantids are some of the largest insects in your garden. Adults can reach 5 inches in length. They look scary, but you want them patrolling your garden. This is because they eat insects and caterpillars, including those that can destroy your flowers and vegetables.

What are Praying Mantids?

Praying mantids (Mantodea spp.) are tropical insects. It is found in all temperate regions of the world. In total, there are 1,800 species worldwide. There are only 11 species native to North America. In addition to the native praying mantis, both the European praying mantis and the Chinese praying mantis have been introduced to the northeastern United States to control pests.

The color of the praying mantis ranges from brown to green. Their coloration enables them to blend into the landscape, especially grasses and shrubs. This camouflage is necessary so that its prey cannot see it. They are ambush hunters. You can find them not only in your garden but also in wild areas such as pastures, fields and even ditches.

Females lay their eggs in the fall in cases that harden to protect them from harsh winter weather. The eggs hatch in the spring. The young mature in late summer and then die in the cold temperatures of winter after mating and leaving the next generation of eggs.

What do Praying Mantids Eat?

Small and young praying mantids feed mainly on insects. They don't have a preferred race. They eat any insect they can catch including caterpillars, butterflies, moths, bees, wasps and flies. Unfortunately, they don't distinguish between "good" insects like ladybugs and "bad" insects like aphids. They will eat everything, even each other if there is nothing else to eat.

When praying mantids reach their adult size in late summer, they branch out to other, larger prey. They are known to eat lizards, mice, frogs, and even hummingbirds.

How do praying mantids catch food?

Praying manatees are ambush predators. They sit on a stick or piece of grass, holding it with their middle and hind legs. They sit upright, holding their front legs in the familiar prayer position, waiting for food to walk or fly. When an unlucky insect comes within reach, the hungry manatee attacks, striking the insect on its front legs.

Does the female mantis kill the males after mating?

Yes! It actually helps in the blending process. The female will try to bite the male's head because this will encourage him to copulate. It also prevents him from eating at all. Of course, if every man was killed by women, there wouldn't be enough men. The males try to pounce on the females and quickly impregnate them before jumping to safety, hoping that they will realize what is happening and eat them.

How do attract praying mantids to my garden?

Believe it or not, the best way to attract praying mantids to your garden is to plant a shrub. Females prefer to lay their eggs in bushes because the dense branches and leaves hide them from hungry birds who find them delicious. They don't have to be large bushes either. I have seen egg cases on lavender which is actually a small woody shrub. Having a lot of shrubs in your yard means there are plenty of places for females to hide their egg boxes. Come spring, you'll be blessed with lots of hungry praying mantis babies eager to rid your garden and yard of pests.

You can help matters in the spring if you find a case of eggs in the wild by moving them to a shrub in your garden where the praying mantids hatch and where they can provide the most benefit to you.

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