What Does the Praying Mantis Look Like?
Identification. There are over 1500 species of praying mantis in the world, but only 20 are found in the US.
The praying mantis is an unusual looking insect. It has three distinct body regions, of which the thorax is elongated giving the appearance of a neck. Of its six legs, the two front legs are raptorial graspers equipped with spikes for grabbing prey. Their size and color depend on the species but are generally 2”-5” long and range from green to brown.
How Is the Praying Mantis Beneficial?
The praying mantis will eat a variety of insects that cause damage in the garden including crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and spiders . They are important agriculturally because they are the only beneficial predaceous insect that is fast enough to catch flies and mosquitoes and the only one that feeds on moths.
Ironically, they are also detrimental in that they will eat beneficial insects as well . . .including each other!
Did you know that some praying mantises have been documented eating prey much larger than themselves such as snakes and mice?
How Can I Attract the Praying Mantis?
You can purchase praying mantis eggs commercially. The best way to attract them to your yard naturally is to provide them with a plentiful food source of insects. Planting a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers will attract insects.
What Eats the Praying Mantis?
The praying mantis has several natural enemies including bats, birds, and spiders. Fish and other aquatic life feed on the eggs and larvae.