Do Praying Mantises Eat Locusts – Let’s Find Out!

Praying mantises and locusts are both insects. However, mantids will eat any and all insects if they are able to, including locusts. Mantids are a valued addition to many a garden, along with ladybugs and lacewings.

Mantid eggs are sold by the lot at many home and garden stores. They help rid your garden of pests in an efficient, almost frightening manner.

Locusts are a major pest, along with other pest, such as crickets, beetles, mites, moths, certain types of flies, weevils and thrips. They can be as large or even larger than a praying mantis, but it’s clear who’s who in the predator-prey relationship.

Why Do Praying Mantis Hunt Locusts?

A mantis is an apex predator. Pound for pound, it is known to be the fiercest, most efficient hunter in the insect kingdom, perhaps among all animals. They are voracious eaters who seem to concentrate on few things as intently as eating, from a very early age.

Mantids are known to camouflage itself in leafy surroundings. They spend 90% of their time waiting – often camouflaged in plain sight, just waiting to burst into action in a flurry of long limbs. A Praying Mantis has been estimated to move at twice the speed of a fly – so it’s literally a blur.

Mantids are the only insects who can rotate their heads 1800. That means that they can turn their head and look over their shoulders, giving them the ability to spot pray across a wide range using their excellent vision.

However, due to the structure of their eyes, they are better at spotting movement than they are at shape or color. They will strike as they spot approaching prey, fearless about size or anything else.

One thing about mantids is that they only eat live food in the wild (though they’ve been known to eat raw meat from a pet owner’s fingers while in captivity). So, movement is the key to attracting a mantid’s attention.

If locusts are in the area, their quick, jerky movements make them a natural target for mantids. Locusts are not particularly difficult to hunt, either. Medium to large size mantids can easily overpower them with their powerful, sharp forearms and their semi-hard exoskeleton is easily pierced by the powerful mandibles of a praying mantis.

Large mantids, such as the Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) have been seen to attack, kill and devour locusts that are as big as them, or even bigger.

Are Locusts a Preferred Food Source or Would Praying Mantis choose Something Else if Available?

As discussed above, mantids are generalists, especially when hungry (and they are hungry all the time it seems!). A Praying Mantis will attack, with the intent to eat, any insect or small vertebrate that walks near its radius of reach and do not seem to pose an inordinate threat to the mantid.

There is some discrimination – some mantids will only eat flying insects, they are typically hiding on flower stalks or plant stems, maybe man-made nectar feeders. Others hunt along the ground, camouflaged among the dry leaves and other debris – so they prefer insects and small vertebrates that they find there.

The species that praying mantises are known to hunt include flies (probably their most favorite prey), butterflies, moths, honey bees, wasps and spiders, plus other flying insects such as crickets and locusts. They will also eat eggs or larvae if they find them.

Occasionally, small vertebrates such as lizards, small snakes, turtles and frogs have also been known to succumb to praying mantis attacks. There have been documented reports of praying mantises feeding on small birds (such as hummingbirds) and even fish (it’s true, there was a report from India about a mantis that came back to a guppy pond several days in a row to snare more than half a dozen fishes swimming by).

The large variety of preys attacked is partially due to the mantids’ instincts in terms of striking at movement. Once in attack mode, the mantid will rarely let go of a prey in their grasp.

Will a Praying Mantis Avoid Certain Types of Locusts?

There are some natural predators that will kill praying mantises, including some species of snakes, lizards, birds and bats, and also invertebrates such as spiders and large species of hornets, ants and wasps. The locus is not a natural predator to the mantis. As such, there is no reason for a praying mantis to fear a locust.

Are Locusts Nutritious for Praying Mantis?

Praying mantises pounce with their powerful and sharp front legs, maybe latching on to a nearby surface for leverage, if one is available – but they will also strike on level ground. Praying mantis’ prefer live prey in almost all cases, usually going straight for the head if they can.

A locust, cicada or cricket is easy pickings for the mantis. They have a semi-hard exoskeleton, which the mantis can easily break through with its powerful mandibles. The mantis will go for the head first, effectively either decapitating its prey or drilling a hole to such out the organic matter inside.

Occasionally, a mantid will have grasped a locust by one of its legs, not the head – and if the latter is lucky, it can tear itself away (locusts’ legs are easily detachable) and scurry away with just a limb lost.

A mantid will devour what’s inside the locust – you will often find “husks” of the dead insect with its insides sucked out after having been attacked, killed and devoured by a mantis. The mantids are after the material rich in nutrients, proteins and minerals inside the locust’s body.

Are Praying Mantis Hunting Locusts a Common Occurrence?

Praying mantises are known all over the world as apex predators and as such, farmers and gardeners are always happy to see them hunt down and get rid of locusts and other pests. For example, praying mantises were not native to North America.

They were introduced here from Europe in the 1880’s specifically for pest control reasons. And now they are everywhere, being introduced in great quantities into gardens or being kept as pets.

Where in the World Does this Happen?

This is commonplace and is found wherever greenery is found, really. The more interesting phenomena involve praying mantises attacking a locust significantly larger than itself. There are several videos of such occurrences, such as the one below:

As you saw, the attack was efficient and brutal, the poor locust hardly had a chance!

Is the Locust a Danger to the Mantis?

Locusts are not carnivores by nature, though they have been known to turn cannibalistic or attack other insects on occasion – especially weak or dead crickets if they are hungry. Their standard diet is leaves and tender tissues of plants, which is why they are major pests to gardens and pests. There Is a locust plague going on in East Africa in 2020.

There are some natural predators that will kill praying mantises, including some species of snakes, lizards, birds and bats, and also invertebrates such as spiders and large species of hornets, ants and wasps. The locus is not a natural predator to the mantis. As such, there is no reason for a praying mantis to fear a locust.

Can You Keep Mantids and Locusts in the Same Solarium as Pets?

If you want to keep the Praying Mantis alive by feeding them locusts, by all means put the two together. If not, do not let them loose close to each other. A praying mantis has a vision radius of up to 60 feet and a locust is a twitchy insect.

Plus, a mantis is known to attack creatures up to three times its size, so it’s unlikely that a size disparity will give pause to the mantid’s plan of attacking to kill and devour its neighbor.

The only way to make the two co-exist is if you have some kind of a partition between the areas where the mantids and the locusts live – then too, you need to ensure that the partition cannot be scaled or otherwise breached.

Praying mantises are excellent acrobats and athletes, they will get to the locust prey if they can.

If you enjoy reading this article then why not check out our article on Can Praying Mantis Eat Hummingbirds.

In Conclusion …

Praying mantises do eat locusts, in large quantities and all over the world. This is considered to be a very, very good thing. If you are a gardener and concerned about plant safety, go down to the local home and garden store and buy some praying mantis egg cases.

Each case will release up to 300 baby mantis. You probably need several in order to counter the cicadas and locusts, who will go through four to five life cycles a year as opposed to the single time that mantis’ typically do.

All in all, the praying mantis is here to stay in our homes (as pets) and gardens (to help control pets). No wonder they were considered to be both fierce fighters and bringers of good luck among farmers in every major world civilization.

If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:






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Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page

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