Praying Mantids in the Garden

The praying mantis is a beneficial predatory insect that provides grasshopper control and more. Learn to create an inviting praying mantis habitat.
By Barbara Pleasant
February 5, 2013
Add to My MSN

The praying mantis is probably the largest insect you’ll see in your garden — and this predatory species is always on the prowl, eating pretty much any other insect that moves.
Illustration By Keith Ward

Content Tools

Related Content

Worms Attack!

Who would have ever thought that worms could invade a forest and wreak havoc?

Chemical Herbicides - Are they For You? (Part Two)

Trying to interpret and understand scientific reports and their failure to come to a consensus.

Spring Has Sprung and the Ogden Garden is Growing

Thanks to a donation from Mantis, we were able to use our new 2-Cycle Tiller/Cultivator and prep our...

What Exactly Does the Term “Homesteading” Mean?

We frequently use the term "homesteading" in Mother Earth News, but what is it's exact meaning?

This article is part of our Organic Pest Control Series, which includes articles on attracting beneficial insects, controlling specific garden pests, and using organic pesticides.  

Praying Mantis (Mantodea

One of the largest and most visible insects in the late summer garden, adult praying mantids (the accepted plural of mantis) can grow to 5 inches long. Both native and imported species may be present in the garden, or you may encounter them in shrubs. The praying mantis has excellent eyesight and is a good flier, so this beneficial easily locates plants being fed upon by smaller insects. As the season progresses and mantids grow larger, they pursue larger prey.

In the fall, a female praying mantis produces eggs inside a foam-like hard case attached to branches. In spring, dozens or hundreds of little mantids hatch and disperse into nearby bushes. Later in summer, after they have grown to 2 inches long, you will start noticing them in the vegetable garden.

What Does a Praying Mantis Eat?

The praying mantis diet consists exclusively of other insects until late in the season, when mature mantids have been known to capture rodents, frogs and hummingbirds. Grasshoppers are more typical fare, but a praying mantis will eat anything it can catch. This includes beneficial insects, so too many mantids may not be good in a balanced organic garden.

Praying Mantis Habitat

Bushes are the preferred habitat for newly hatched praying mantids, so landscapes that include plenty of shrubbery usually have an abundance of this predatory insect. Praying mantis egg cases can be purchased and set out in the garden in spring, but do not import more praying mantids if you already see them often in your yard.

More information on the praying mantis is available from University of Arizona, Ohio State University, and Oregon State University.

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.