What Is The Most Aggressive Praying Mantis?

Praying mantis are known for being voracious predators. These insects hunt prey up to three times their size and will fight back an even bigger opponent when threatened. 

Among more than 2,400 species of praying mantis, the one that stands out the most when it comes to aggressive behavior is the Parasphendale affinis, commonly known as the Budwing mantis. 

Interestingly enough, this Kenya-native praying mantis species is also popular as a pet. Does the title of most aggressive mantis also mean Budwing mantis can be aggressive to their owners?

In this article, we’ll tell you everything about their hostile behavior. Let’s dive in.

What Is A Budwing Mantis?

The Budwing mantis usually has an earthy-colored body, with hues ranging from light beige to dark brown. These mantis also have darker spots and straps throughout their entire body, giving them a two-toned pattern. 

When it comes to size, the Budwing mantis is one of the largest species in the world. Female mantis can grow up to 2.75 inches in length and have wings growing from their backs.

These wings only reach up to the middle of their abdomen, meaning they’re too short to be used for flying. Even though they are not helpful for flying, the wings of a Budwing mantis do have their purpose (we’ll go into more details about this below). 

Differentiating between Budwing mantis males and females is pretty straightforward. Male Budwing mantis are much smaller in size than their female counterparts. The dissimilarities are pretty visible even while they’re still nymphs.

With only 1.5 inches in length, male Budwing mantis are rather easy prey to different carnivores. But unlike females, they have long wings that go all the way to the end of their abdomen, allowing them to fly.

When threatened, male Budwing mantis generally prefer fleeing over facing their opponents. Another reason why males need fully developed wings is to find their mating partners.

They’re rather fast, so they can quickly move from place to place in search of their perfect mate.

Aggression Towards Their Mate

You’ve probably heard about female praying mantis eating their mates. Well, this is not actually always the case with all species of praying mantis, but Budwing mantis lean heavily towards cannibalism. 

While male mantis are in a rush to find their other half, females don’t share the same enthusiasm. That’s because most females also mate with multiple males throughout their mating season.

Males, on the other hand, generally stay with their first partner for the rest of their life. 

That’s not because they believe in everlasting love, but because they don’t live long after mating. In fact, they die at the hands of their beloved partner.

What’s worse, that usually happens during intercourse. That’s right, this highly aggressive praying mantis breed never misses the chance to feast on its mate, which is the weaker sex in this case. 

Jon Glittenberg, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What’s even stranger in this situation is that female Budwing mantis doesn’t wait until mating is over to eat its partner. These voracious insects start feasting by biting a male’s head off sometime mid intercourse.

But a male Budwing mantis doesn’t die in vain. Once beheaded, its mini-brain located in the tail activates and boosts its mating skills, to put it like that.

Although unproven, it’s believed that the act of eating their partners gives female mantis nutrients needed for laying more eggs. 

While we understand that aggression towards males is “for the greater good”, we can still agree that their cannibalistic act is a rather frightening one to see. 

Aggression Towards Other Animals

Since male Budwing mantis is about half the size of females, they’re a decent-sized meal. Especially compared to other stuff they usually eat, like crickets and worms.

But that’s not to say that Budwing mantis doesn’t like an occasional feast. These species are so voracious, they might eat practically whatever comes their way when hungry.

By this, we mean small critters and birds. As long as a mantis can grab it with its tiny hands, any animal is a potential meal of the day.

Believe it or not, it’s not uncommon for praying mantis to eat birds, frogs, lizards, and even bats! To be able to do so, the mantis can’t rely on its pure physical strength. Instead, it uses its rogue skill to ambush its prey. 

Thanks to its earthy color and bark-like patterns, the Budwing mantis easily camouflages while standing on a tree. There, it patiently waits until the opportunity arises.

At some point, an animal small enough to be considered a meal will pass by, unaware of the predator’s presence. Once within reach, a mantis will snap the prey with its strong forelegs at lightspeed.

According to scientists, their reflexes are twice as fast as the ones of a housefly. With that in mind, it’s clear that their prey can’t possibly see it coming. And once it does, it’s too late. 

The Budwing Mantis Battle Stance

As we’ve previously mentioned, female mantis usually has shorter wings than their male counterparts. The wings are too small for flying, so they obviously have a different role. 

Like many other species of praying mantis, a Budwing mantis has odd patterns on its wings. Once spread, their wings look like the eyes of a much larger animal. That surely comes in handy when facing a much larger opponent. 

Even though it’s bigger than most of its cousins, a Budwing mantis still has tons of natural enemies, including lizards, snakes, and scorpions.

And as we already established, this insect is unlikely to win a straightforward duel with these opponents. To improve its chance, a Budwing mantis has to make itself bigger and scarier.

That way, a mantis tricks its predator into thinking it’s facing a much more dangerous opponent, so it might back up from a fight.

Funnily enough, a Budwing mantis goes even further into the role, and can even strike first to show just how much fight it’s ready to put up. This behavior is known as the mantis dance.

When in danger, this mantis species spreads its legs and wings and starts moving sideways in repetitive motions. It’s also known to make a hissing sound while swinging from side to side.

Its determination to scare the enemy is usually fruitful. After all, most predators don’t like working too hard for their meals.

If the prey puts up too much fight, it’s very likely venomous or poisonous. No predator wants to risk their life over such a tiny meal, so they usually give up and focus on something else to catch. 

This aggressive behavior is commonly seen in female Budwing mantis, but that’s not often the case with males. Being much smaller, male Budwing mantis prefers fleeing dangerous situations over holding a hostile stance. Thanks to their long wings, they can fly away when threatened.

Aggression Towards Humans

These fearsome insects (at least their female counterparts) will act tough even when facing a much larger opponent. But what about humans?

In a normal situation, a Budwing mantis would try to stay as far as possible from us, but in case a person approaches it in fast motion, it’s not uncommon for this insect to try and frighten us as well. 

In case you don’t know, praying mantis have eyes consisting of 10,000 independent photoreception units. What this means is each of these units points in different directions, giving the mantis a 180-degree vision.

But that doesn’t mean they see better than us. In fact, their sight resolution is pretty bad, except for the middlemost part of their eyes.

Their vision is pretty blurry, but it does allow them to see depth. In other words, they can sense movement. 

Why is this important? Well, because of their sight, it’s quite possible they don’t see how big of a threat is in front of them so that possibly gives them more confidence to do the counterattack in hope of scaring the opponent.

Keeping A Budwing Mantis As A Pet

Given the fact that a Budwing mantis can show aggressive behavior towards humans, you’re probably wondering why people keep it as a pet. 

Firstly, a praying mantis won’t “attack” you unless it feels threatened and cornered. In fact, if you treat it adequately, a mantis will let you hold them in your hands and will climb onto you.

So remember, no sudden movements, or you might provoke it to attack and bite you.

While this probably sounds dangerous, don’t worry. A Budwing mantis can’t actually hurt you. Its tiny bite can be a tiny bit painful, but it won’t cause any long-term harm.

What’s more, praying mantis isn’t poisonous or venomous, and it’s very unlikely for their bite to cause an allergic reaction. In case it bites you, just clean the wound and slap a bandaid on. 


Among 2,400 species, a Budwing mantis stands out as the most aggressive one. Not only does it actively hunt prey three times its size, but it stands its ground even when facing a much bigger opponent.

Still, this species is pretty docile to humans and won’t show aggressive behavior unless it feels threatened.

Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:

Are Praying Mantises Poisonous? 5 Key Facts

3 Best Kind of Praying Mantis to Keep as Pets

Longest Living Mantis Species -An Examination

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 https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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