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What does a praying mantis eat? Other insects and its own kind

Updated on January 20, 2014
Praying mantis spiky fore legs
Praying mantis spiky fore legs | Source

What is praying mantis? The front legs making them the most ferocious predators within their order

Praying mantis, a family of order of orthoptera, originally teamed up with other family members like cockroaches and grasshoppers.

What is a praying mantis general appearance that is so famous for? Lately, they have been introduced into an order of their own, the Mantodea that consists of only one family member the notorious Mantidae.

Almost all of Mantidae are fiercer predators, hunt for other insects such as flies, crickets, grasshoppers and moths.

The most prominent feature a praying mantis has is a pair of bending spiky front legs that hold together which in overall looks like someone praying position. The front legs able to extend firm grips on the captured prey.

What is praying mantis reproduction rate? The female can lie down eggs from ten up to four hundreds packed inside egg container or ootheca which similar to hardened foams.

Baby praying mantis or nymphs looks like a small grasshopper, at this stage they lack of wings and reproductive potential which eventually will grow as they get bigger and more mature.

Depending on which species, a baby praying mantis capable of changing their exoskeleton five to ten times.

Praying mantis in the wild
Praying mantis in the wild | Source
Praying mantis capturing a prey
Praying mantis capturing a prey | Source

What do praying mantis eat? Their own mating partner and other insects

The most dramatic characteristic praying mantis is none other than the surprising cannibalism behavior especially among the female mantis.

The bigger females would often attack, kill and eat the males during mating. On the other hand, fewer cases found when males attacking and eat the females.

Of all the insect species in this world the praying mantis perhaps the only one that execute cannibalism during reproduction process, something that is quite rare and caught many interests at the same time.

Do eating their own kind is their primary choice for dinner? Are they the only praying mantis diet? Of course the answer is NOT.

As mentioned before there are wide varieties of praying mantis food, normally they will hunt and capture other insects like grasshoppers and cockroaches.

However, the act of eating their own partners when they are together something that most scientists still wondering and curiously want to learn more.

What the benefits or on the contrary any negative impacts they would get from performing this unusual ritual during reproduction?

Quite frankly I am not sure, but praying mantises definitely help farmers protecting their crops from insects since they hunt for them.

Anyway some scientists believe cannibalism in bigger female mantis due to their incapability to control their own aggression and big energy.

So during the reproduction they become even more aggressive, get starve and cannot stop sudden impulse to kill any moving objects including their male partners.

What do the male praying mantises do to avoid such deadly situation? Simply none, despite the fact they will get killed the males would still try as hard as they can to get the job done by reproducing and get killed anyway.

Praying mantis pictures

Praying mantis on a thumb
Praying mantis on a thumb | Source
Raising front legs ready to attack!
Raising front legs ready to attack! | Source

The pet praying mantis for you to keep at home

Ever consider praying mantis pet? Why not, they are relatively easy to care. Few things you might want to pay more attention when you have praying mantis pet:

  • The cage – praying mantis can crawl on almost any surfaces even they can fly. So it is better to use aquarium for your praying mantis to live.

Place some dry leaves as the base, and add a few dry branches for praying mantis to climb on just like in the wild. You may add more decorations but the leaves and branches are necessary.

  • Feed – praying mantis loves to eat grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillar. Don’t forget to give them some water too.
  • Breeding – First we need to know how to distinguish the males from females? In general the males are thinner and have more segments in their abdomen. While females are bigger, fattier and less segments on abdomen.

After mating you need to immediately separate the male from the female partner because at this stage they are extremely starving.

A single female can consume up to fifteen crickets in a day during eggs laying period because this process consumes so much energy.

Green wings expanding ready to fly
Green wings expanding ready to fly | Source
Praying mantis Kung-fu stance
Praying mantis Kung-fu stance | Source

Praying mantis habitat

With almost 2000 different species the praying mantis habitat distributed all over the world. Where do praying mantis live?

These carnivorous insects as some people may call them can live gloriously in warmer environments.

Therefore the best place for you to find praying mantis are tropical countries with mild temperature kind of climate.

Praying mantis can be found in South of Asia, South and north of America, South of Africa and European countries.

The mantises love to stay where plants growing green, could be your garden but mostly in the forests.


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