Chinese Invasion: Should These Insect Immigrants Be Welcomed or Not?

| 9/10/2019 2:03:00 PM

green and brown praying mantis

Introduced accidentally into the eastern part of the United States in the late 19th century, Tenodera sinensis—Chinese praying mantis—is as cherished as it is demonized. I admit to having emotions toward this amazing predator that span that spectrum. Most of the mantids in my garden are of the Chinese variety.

I have yet to kill one (that I know about) and even take care to relocate their egg cases when pruning my vast garden. I also gently relocate the variously sized adults when I run across them. I adore my pollinators so it’s difficult for me to imagine them being nabbed and eaten alive by one of these pesky predators. Thankfully, I have yet to find one of the many mantids I’ve run across munching on anything.

Some people purposely introduce the Chinese mantis into specified areas because they are such aggressive predators. Unfortunately, as with many infusions of non-native species, this can cause further imbalance and may lead to a long path of reestablishing harmony. I didn’t bring the mantids into my garden, I simply allow them to stay.

While I’d love to have more native mantids in my garden—like the Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) pictured below, bottom right corner—it would take a major killing spree of the Chinese variety on my part to make room for those natives. I’m simply not up to that particular task at this time. I haven’t yet taken the time to study closely enough to note if I have any European mantis (Mantis religiosa) or any of the other 2,000 varieties in my garden.

uncamouflaged praying mantis

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