Praying Mantis – A Beneficial Insect

Praying Mantis got its name from their “prayer like” pose. This lightening fast insect can swivel its head 180 degrees and can see in 3D. They eat spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, mites and insect eggs. They have voracious appetites.

They hide in plain sight through camouflage by blending into the surroundings. Though they are hard to find, you may come across their egg cases (see photo).

The egg cases (about an inch long) are enclosed in a foamy pouch called an ootheca that attaches to stems and twigs and hardens. Depending on the species of mantis determines its color, size and shape of ootheca. I often find them in the tall grasses in spring.

If you find them in your yard try not to disturb them. If you need to cut back the grass or plant they are on, cut the twig and place it in a nearby bush. It is interesting to observe the hatching. Check every few days once the temperature rises to 75° F.

They are slow moving and don’t bite humans. If you are very gentle and hold your hand steady, they may walk onto your hand. They are thought of as beneficial predators. Though they are really a neutral predator eating bad as well as good bugs. 

Pack your backpack with a phone or camera to take photos when you see one of these unique creatures.

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