Praying mantis have a veracious appetite. They really aren’t picky eaters. Typically they’ll go for prey provided that they aren’t larger than the mantis itself.
In this article I’ll share with you some of the more unusual things preying mantis eat. I think you’ll be surprised the variety and there’s some shockers in there too.
So, what do praying mantis eat? Let’s find out below.
Do praying mantis eat ants?
Since mantises have an enormous appetite, they can feed on ants as well. Even though they mainly feed on bugs, honey bees, small birds, arthropods, just to mention some, but they can also chew on live ants.
Adult mantises can easily capture ants with their agility and lightning reflex with ants only growing from 6 to 12mm, which is just minuscule compared to the length of the mantis’ size.
Ants will also not notice the mantis, since they are great at camouflage or hiding until after they are near their prey, and nothing can be done to escape their grip.
However, ants can also turn the tables on mantises when they feed on egg cases left by female mantises.
p.s. We have a bunch of articles that deep dive into some of the topics covered in this article. You might want to check them out if you want to learn more about what mantis eat:
Do praying mantis eat birds?
The mantises wait patiently to catch the most edible creature they can feast on. Birds are not an exception.
There are 24 varying species of birds reportedly killed by the mantis, they prey on smaller birds mostly hummingbirds.
Killing the birds takes brutality to the next level for mantises because they usually grab the bird’s head to pierce their skull so they can consume the brain tissue. Some mantises will continue eating the bird until there is no part left. Others will just eat what they can and will depend on how hungry, they were at the time.
One of the most capable species of praying mantis that eats birds is the Chinese mantis called Tenodera Sinensis, a native to China but has now reached America.
Do praying mantis eat spiders?
The mantises can consume a smaller spider, but not likely enormous spiders and they are careful when they do so because some spiders have venom harmful to mantis when injected but not when ingested.
They would approach from behind, and usually, before the spider is even aware of their presence, the mantis will use their forelegs to grasp the spider and rip it to pieces.
Tarantulas can be eaten by a mantis and vice versa. Will still depend on the size of the mantis.
Spiders will devour smaller mantises when captured on their web.
Do praying mantis eat crickets?
Mantises can also eat crickets as it is readily available. Many people own mantises as pets who feed them crickets.
However, some crickets eat any food available to them, which may bring about bacteria in their gut that when they are fed or eaten by the mantises, will also cause some issue with the species. There are effects such as vomiting and even death to mantises.
Cricket may also harbor a virus called AdDNV or Acheta domestic Densovirus, an arthropod-specific virus, hence can affect the mantises once they feed on them.
Do praying mantis eat their mates?
Praying mantis has a bizarre way of mating because a female praying mantis will usually kill their sex partner. A female mantis will slaughter a male mantis by biting off their heads and will consume their body parts.
This is mostly true, but some female mantis will only eat their male partner if they get irritated with them, when they are hungry or when their partner is smaller.
There is also a report that when they eat their mates, they can gain important amino acids that can be good for their eggs, even doubling the eggs they lay.
In the praying mantises kingdom, sex is not an act of intimacy like in humans, it is additionally a way for their species to continue and evolve.
Do praying mantises eat mosquitoes?
Since they are predators and anything else that is good to get by, they will surely eat. A random flying mosquito can be their meal as well. It is not common, but it will do for them.
A praying mantis in your garden or farm can be beneficial because they will hunt mosquitoes and other pests there.
Using them in your garden can be a smarter idea than using sprays that can be harmful to you and the environment.
Mantises will eat not just mosquitoes, but also different pests in your garden.
Do praying mantises eat mealworms?
Mealworms are not really mantises’ natural diet as they contain mostly fat and no other nutritional substances that can be beneficial to mantis.
There are two species of mealworms commonly used, such as superworms and the small mealworms, but they are just called worms, but rather, they are the larval stage of the Tenebrio beetle.
Although mealworms are not that nutritious, they can be mantises’ food from time to time if there are no locusts or other insects available for them to munch on. Mealworms can surely fill the hunger gap.
Do praying mantis eat locust?
Not really a preferred food for mantids, but they will do.
Locust or with its scientific name, Locusta migratoria a type of large grasshopper that will stop the hunger of mantises. A good food source as long as they are not too big with their prey, they can also grow larger and can keep the praying mantis full for a meal.
Locust is also slower compared to crickets, so they are easier prey to the mantises.
Praying mantis are beneficial to garden and farms when compared to locust who can wreak havoc to farms.
Mantises will get attracted to the movement often, and the locust’s jerky movement can make them a natural target for mantises. They are also easy to hunt down, torn to pieces and devoured.
Do praying mantis eat woodlice?
Woodlice are also called sowbugs, pillbugs, or roly-polies but not a bug, but a terrestrial crustacean found mostly in North America, we know them to eat feces, dead animals, rotting plants, and anything in between. We find them in damp or rotting woods.
They are crustaceans like lobsters, shrimps, and crabs.
They are not the favored food of mantids because of their not so-soft shells. Mantids prefer insects or bugs with softer covers.
If there is nothing to eat, they will also keep the hunger of the mantises at bay because they are easy to find as long as there is a damp and decay around.
Do praying mantises eat aphids?
Mantids love aphids because its soft body makes it easy for mantids to prey and eat them.
Aphids are the insects that feed on plant sap and will turn your plants unhealthy once this creature keeps themselves busy eating all your plants. They are highly destructive because they multiply quickly.
Baby mantises will feed more on aphids.
Aphids are not easily eradicated, because they will keep on adding in numbers and being a pest to different varieties of plants.
Mantids can get rid of them and control their increase in farms, gardens, or forest.
Do praying mantis eat Asian beetles?
Although it is not a common food for Mantids, Asian lady beetles can be their meal. Since mantids are predators, and if there is no other option, they will eat even the Asian beetles that help in fighting off plant pests. They will eat insects, aphids, and mites.
Asian beetles are native to Asia, e.g. Japan, Korea, China. We can find them on trees and fields, but they reached the US and were observed to appear in 1988, and then it also reaches parts of Canada.
Some predators leave them alone as well because they secrete a smelly substance when they are disturbed.
Do praying mantis eat Asian hornets?
It is more of a David and Goliath story cause Asian hornets will mostly feed on mantises. They attack in numbers and will surely feed on the praying mantis in a minute.
Mantises are a well-documented food source of Asian hornets. Although sometimes a mantis overpowers smaller Asian hornets, this is not as frequent.
Do praying mantis eat after molting?
They will stop eating a day before their molting or another day after they finished molting.
They should be kept away from other insects as well, to keep them safe.
The Mantis will molt for 5 to 10 times in their lifetime and will increase in size after. They will just stay in place until their old skin will loosen, and the new skin will replace it.
Do praying mantis eat Bees?
Praying mantises are not supposed to eat them, but they eat bees. Although it is not a common occurrence for mantids, they still will when there is nothing that they prefer to eat around them. Even if bees can sting, they cannot outrun the mantids.
Do praying mantis eat butterflies?
Praying mantises also prey on butterflies. They were sighted to kill butterflies. One butterfly, in particular, is the monarch butterfly. The mantids have their preference for bugs, locusts, flies, worms, but when they are hungry, will eat anything that moves.
They also eat caterpillars, but some caterpillars are not nutritious for them as they only contain water.
Butterflies are extra food for praying mantis, but not their staple food.
Butterflies aid in the pollination of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
Do praying mantis eat black widows?
Mantids feed on spiders, they consider the black widow a delicious meal.
Many fear black widow because of its powerful venom, and it is the same in the insect world. They have a shiny black body with red markings on top of her body. There are five species of black widow spiders found in North America.
Some birds will try to eat these spiders, but will end up unwell because of the poison from the black widow.
Do praying mantis eat brown recluse?
This spider is sometimes also eaten by praying mantis. They are not common, but again, when there is nothing else to feast on, the mantids will make it their meal.
The brown recluse Aka violin spider is a small, brown spider with a dark patch resembling a violin. They are usually hiding in dark spaces, under furniture, they will hide on your boots too.
We know its venom to necrotize the flesh, but they don’t bite unless provoked.
Do praying mantis eat crane flies?
Mantids eat crane flies. They are also an important source of food for praying mantis.
The crane fly is significant in the ecosystem because they are insects that break down fallen leaves to make it more consumable by smaller organisms.
They are preyed on by spiders, centipedes, and predatory beetles as well, while their larvae became the feeds for many aquatic animals.
Crane-fly may also feed on nectar.
Do praying mantis eat cockroaches?
Now, this is good news for many. Praying mantis prey on cockroaches and make them their meal.
There are many species of cockroaches, and it is easy to find them as they are always lurking in small spaces, corners, dark areas, among others.
They move fast, but it is no match for the praying mantis’ swift movement.
Some cockroaches’ size can reach 3.5 inches.
Do praying mantis eat cicadas?
Praying mantises also prey on cicadas. It is not common for praying mantises to feed on them, but they are also a source of food for the mantids.
Cicadas have strategies to keep predators away, including playing dead, camouflaging themselves to look like trees, some even display a bright, deimatic flash coloration found on their hind wings when approached.
It is not just praying mantises who feed on them, but in countries such as Malaysia, China, Central Africa, and even in some parts of North America, they consider these insects a delicacy.
Do praying mantises eat dead insects?
They will do everything to prey on live insects, and they must feed on them while they are alive. Mantids will not eat any insects that were already dead.
The more an insect moves, jerk, or jump, the tastier they become in the eyes of the mantises.
Do praying mantis eat dragonflies?
Their diet also includes dragonflies. The dragonfly will be unsuspecting, while the praying mantis will ambush the dragonfly. Although the dragonfly can fly, they are not fast when mantises are approaching, they usually won’t know what hit them.
Dragonflies are predators themselves as they also feed on other insects such as flies, moths, bees, and other flying insects. They are also considered effective hunters, but they don’t stand a chance against mantids.
Do praying mantis eat frogs?
Mantises eat frogs as well, but only those that are small. Known to be carnivorous, they will eat frogs on sight as long as they can overpower it.
Often than not, the mantis will grasp the neck or one of its limbs first, then will continue stabbing and ripping parts off, slowly eating the frog while it is still alive.
Although some frogs can change their color, others will have a bad or poisonous taste, but they are still defenseless against this predator.
If you enjoyed reading this article then check out our Praying Mantis category on school of bugs, we have a bunch more articles worth reading. Including other insects and even birds that praying mantis eat!
Do praying mantis eat fish?
We know them to devour birds, reptiles, and small mammals, but there are reports made that praying mantis has been sighted eating fish in the wild.
Guppies were the victim of the predator, and the mantis walked on the leaves of the water lilies, waited patiently, so they can pluck the fish out of the water.
They are thought to be evolving and are getting better at hunting, even on water.
Do praying mantis eat flowers?
They will eat the pollen of flowering plants, and they take their time doing so cause they are also waiting for bees or flies to get near the flowers.
Mantis won’t care much about eating flowers, but if it’s another way for them to catch their prey, they will do so gladly.
Do praying mantis eat plants?
Praying mantis finds it hard to hunt during the fall, so they need to have an alternative, and pollens are high in protein
They will eat plants as well and are more attracted to cosmos, yarrow, marigold, Angelica, and raspberry canes. Some culinary herbs they prefer include caraway and fennel.
Their olfactory senses can search for odor released by pollens.
Do praying mantis eat fungus gnats?
Praying mantises help control the proliferation of pesky insects in the wild, or even in farms and gardens.
Since mantises love to eat insects, they will eat both the insects and larvae not just of other species but also of fungus gnats.
We consider fungus gnats a minor houseplant pest, but its minor presence can become a full-blown infestation in your garden. They will feed on the plant’s roots and can also spread Pythium, which is another plant pathogen.
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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