The Decline of Praying Mantises: A Threatening Decrease in Numbers

How Many Praying Mantis Are Left?

Praying mantises are a familiar sight in garden and landscape. They eat pests and pollinators, including butterflies, bees, flies and mosquitos.

These insects are nearly always green or brown, camouflaging well among their sticks and leaves. But a few species also sport light colors that resemble flowers, such as the tropical flower mantis.

Life Cycle

Praying mantises have a very complex life cycle. A female will lay up to 400 eggs in a hard foamy case known as an ootheca, which will protect the fragile embryos through winter. They will hatch in late spring or early summer, and the nymphs will spend the rest of the year eating and growing to maturity.

The nymphs will go through multiple stages (known as instars) of development, and they may even eat each other to promote their growth. Throughout this stage, the nymphs will also shed their outer skin, a process called molting.

The praying mantis is a formidable predator with powerful forelegs that can pinch, stab, or strike. They can also make a hissing sound by pushing air out of their abdominal spiracles. While they look intimidating, these insects don’t have venom, and their bites are not painful to humans. However, if a mantis is threatened, it will stand up tall and spread out its arms to appear larger and scare off any enemies with its striking appearance.


Praying mantis prefer warm habitats with long grass and bushes. They can survive in a wide variety of environments from woodlands to deserts.

In the wild they are a carnivorous predator that feeds on both live and dead arthropods including grasshoppers, cockroaches, crickets, flies, wasps, houseflies, moths and spiders. They are also known to eat smaller animals such as lizards and frogs.

Like all mantids, praying mantises find their prey through sight and smell. They wait until an insect comes within striking distance and then lunges out and catches it in its arm-like graspers that have rows of spines to hold onto their prey.

They are a fascinating insect that is very popular for pet owners, but they can be difficult to keep in captivity. Purchasing captive-bred mantises rather than those caught in the wild can help ensure that they will thrive in your home. You will also need to have a suitable enclosure such as an insect terrarium or even plastic sweet jars.


Praying mantises are primarily diurnal, hunting by day. They have raptorial forelegs that grab their prey and hold it in place. They also have compound eyes with a high degree of spatial resolution. To see over longer distances, they make rapid movements called saccades.

During saccades, the head of a praying mantis is centered on the foveae (the central cluster of ommatidia in each eye). At longer distances, they estimate prey location by binocular triangulation.

To keep a praying mantis healthy, feed it two live insects adjusted to its size (for example 2 flies, crickets or dubia roaches for a smaller sized nymph and for larger a pair of locusts). The best type of food is worm-typed foods like mealworms, superworms, waxworms, hornworms or beetle larvae. Like all animals, praying mantises need water. They do not drink from a water dish but collect the necessary moisture through droplets on their enclosure walls and leaves. To provide this, spray the enclosure with water with a regularity depending on the species.


Praying mantises are a fascinating insect to keep as pets. They are very low maintenance and easy to care for. They can be kept in a container and fed on crickets or flies. They do not require special lights or vitamins. Just make sure they are warm enough and that their food is not contaminated with parasites.

Female praying mantids are typically larger than the male. This allows the female to exercise mate choice by selecting the best male. This selection process sometimes involves sexual cannibalism. This may seem gruesome but it’s an important part of evolution. It ensures that the best males’ genes are passed on to future generations.

After mating, the female lays anywhere from a few dozen to 400 eggs on a twig or flat surface. She then covers them with a frothy substance produced by accessory glands in her abdomen. This coating and the egg mass are referred to as an ootheca. Depending on the species, the ootheca may be placed in the ground or wrapped around a stem of a plant.

Extend your knowledge by reading more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *