Friday, September 28, 2007

Giant Hornet vs Mantis

Praying Mantis vs. Grasshopper

Praying Mantis vs. Spider

Praying Mantis versus Mouse


The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids. Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong.

By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long "neck," or elongated thorax. Mantis can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them.

Cleverly disguised among the leaves, this green praying mantis can swivel its head nearly 180 degrees to spot potential prey.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Praying mantids, with their huge compound eyes mounted on the triangular head, have a large field of vision. They use sight for detecting movement of prey and then turn their mobile head to bring their prey into their binocular field of view. They are able to turn their head 180 degrees for excellent vision and hearing. Their antennae are used for smell.


Praying mantids can be found in all parts of the world with mild winters and sufficient vegetation. Praying mantids will spend most of their time in a garden, forest or other vegetated area


Being a carnivorous insect, the mantis feeds primarily on other insects. However, it is not uncommon for larger mantis to consume small reptiles and even small mammals or birds.

To capture their prey, mantids use their camouflage to blend in with the surroundings and wait for the prey to be within striking distance. They then use their raptorial front legs to quickly snatch the victim and devour it.


The primary predators of the praying mantis are frogs, monkeys, larger birds, spiders and snakes. Praying mantids will also prey on each other, usually during the nymph stage and during mating (Patterson).

Defense mechanisms

When threatened, praying mantids stand tall and spread their forelegs to allow them to penetrate the target, with their wings fanning out wide and mouths open. The fanning of the wings is used to make the mantis seem larger and to scare the opponent, with some species having bright colors and patterns on their hind wings and inner surfaces of their front legs for this purpose. If harassment persists, the mantis will then strike with their forelegs and attempt to pinch or bite.
Mantids do not develop wings until the final molt. Some mantids do not develop wings at all, or may have small flightless wings. The only time mantids fly is when the adult female begins to emit pheromones which attract males for mating. Contrary to popular belief, not all males become the meal of the female. Male mantids fly at night as they seem to be attracted to artificial lights. Bats, one of the mantid's natural predators, feed at night when the males are busy locating a mate. Bats, as you may know, use echolocation to pinpoint their prey. According to Yager and May, praying mantids are able to hear these sounds and when the frequency begins to increase rapidly, indicating an approaching bat, mantids will stop flying horizontally and begin a descending spiral toward the safety of the ground. Often this descent will be preceded by an aerial loop or spin. Other times, the entire descent will consist of a downward spiral. The mantis has one single ear, its sole purpose being for the detection of bats.


The reproductive process in a majority of mantid species is marked by sexual cannibalism of the male by the female, and is an ongoing subject of research. The reason for sexual cannibalism has been the subject of some debate, with some considering submissive males to be achieving a selective advantage in their ability to produce offspring. This theory is supported by a quantifiable increase in the duration of copulation among male mantids who are cannibalized, in some cases doubling both the duration and the chance of fertilization. This is further supported in a study by J. P. Lelito and W. D. Brown where male mantids were seen to approach hungry females with more caution, and were shown to remain mounted on hungry females for a longer time, indicating that males actively avoiding cannibalism may mate with multiple females. The act of dismounting is one of the most dangerous times for male mantids during copulation, for it is at this time that female mantids most frequently cannibalize their mates. This increase in mounting duration was thought to indicate that males would be more prone to wait for an opportune time to dismount from a hungry female rather than from a satiated female that would be less likely to cannibalize its mate. Some consider this to be an indication that male submissiveness does not inherently increase male reproductive success, rather that more fit males are likely to approach a female with caution and escape

Endangered status

Most North American mantids are not included among endangered species, but species in other parts of the world are under threat from habitat destruction.

Pest control

Mantids will consume any insect. If released in very large numbers they will cause a reduction in number of pest insects. Apply mantids of several sizes for the best results. Release several hundred in batches through out the season as smaller mantids will consume aphids, fruit flies, mites, gnats and mosquitoes. Larger mantids consume flying roaches, crickets, some species of grasshopper, some species of beetles, moths, flies and other larger insects. Rarely, mantids will consume small birds. It is much more common, however, for birds to consume mantids. USDA lists mantids as a beneficial insect.

When releasing mantids into the garden it is best to hatch oothecae (plural for ootheca, egg case) When placing oothecae into the garden they should be placed in partial shade. Areas frequented by ants or small predatory wasps should be avoided. Predatory wasps deposit eggs into mantis ootecae. Some gardeners find it best to hatch mantids indoors then release them outdoors at night 24 hours or so after the hatch is complete. Some people claim that mantids are not efficient as beneficial insects. This will depend on the number of mantids released, how often they are released, positioning of the ootheca when there is human intervention and under what conditions the oothecae are hatched.

Gardeners will often search for oothecae and carefully move them while still connected to their holding structure and place them in the refrigerator to prevent premature hatching. The ootheca will keep the unborn nymphs alive in the refrigerator until the spring arrives and they are ready to hatch. This allows for the mantis nymphs to be born in the garden and spend their lives protecting the plants from insects that may harm the vegetation. Hundreds of thousands of dollars per year are spent by gardening enthusiasts who find the release of mantids to be effective.


Praying Mantids start out life in an ootheca egg mass. Usually laid in the fall on a small branch or twig, the egg mass then hatches in the spring to early summer as warming temperatures signal the time for birth.
The natural lifespan of a praying mantis in the wild is about 10 - 12 months, but some mantids kept in captivity have been sustained for 14 months. In colder areas, female mantids will die during the winter. Males tend to "suddenly" die about 2 to 3 weeks after mating in the fall, This is usually caused by the female's urge to kill off the male once the egg pouch has been produced. (U.S. Mantids)


Praying mantids are often kept as pets, their unique behavior and generally easy rearing requirements making them popular in the exotic pet trade, rivaling tarantulas and scorpions. An average-sized insect container or fish tank will make a suitable home. They require branches to climb on, insects to hunt and water to drink. They will drink sprayed water out of a bottle and eat crickets, widely available in pet stores. If fed too much, their abdomen can burst, killing the mantis. Hatchlings should ideally be fed on a diet of fruit flies.


The majority of the about 2,000 species' of mantids worldwide are found in Asia. There are about 20 U.S. native manitds. Two species ( Chinese Mantis, T. sinensis and European Mantis, M. religiosa) were deliberately introduced to act as pest control for agriculture. While it is completely legal to keep U.S. native mantids, Chinese and European mantids in captivity or for the purpose of release on farms or in the home garden (rocker Greg Kihn enjoys keeping and raising them as pets at his home in northern California), all other species of praying mantids are illegal to possess in the United States. Common names for some illegal mantids are : spiny flower mantis, orchid mantis, wondering violin mantis, ghost manits, devils flower mantis, Egyptian mantis among others are illegal under the Non Native Invasive Species Act of 1992. See a more complete list below.

Acanthops falcata - Venezuelan Dead Leaf mantis
Acanthops fuscifolia - Tropical Dead Leaf
Acanthops tuberculata - Tropical Dead Leaf
Acromantis sp. - Boxer mantis
Ameles decolor
Ameles spallanzania
Alalomantis muta - Cameroon mantis
Asiadodis squilla - Asian shield mantis
Blepharopsis mendica - Thistle mantis
Brunneria subaptera - Stick mantis
Brunneria borealis - Stick mantis
Camelomantis sondaica
Ceratocrania macra
Ceratomantis saussurii
Choeradodis rhombicollis - Tropical shield mantis
Choeradodis stalii - Tropical shield mantis
Cilnia humeralis
Creobroter meleagris - Flower mantis
Creobroter gemmatus - Indian flower mantis
Creobroter pictipennis - Indian flower mantis
Creobroter elongata - Flower mantis
Deroplatys angustata - Dead Leaf mantis
Deroplatys desiccata - Dead Leaf mantis
Deroplatys lobata - Dead Leaf mantis
Deroplatys truncata - Dead Leaf mantis
Empusa fasciata
Empusa pennata
Eremiaphila brunneri - Common desert mantis
Eremiaphila zetterstedti
Euchomenella heteroptera - Twig mantis
Gongylus gongylodes - Indian rose/Violin mantis
Gonatista grisea - Grizzled mantis
Heterochaeta strachani
Hierodula membranacea - Giant Asian mantis
Hierodula grandis - Giant Indian mantis
Hierodula patellifera - Indo-Pacific mantis
Hierodula parviceps - Philippine mantis
Holaptilon pusillulum - Jumpy mantis
Hoplocorypha sp.
Humbertiella ceylonica
Hymenopus coronatus - Orchid mantis
Idolomantis diabolica - Devil's Flower mantis
Idolomorpha madagascariensis
Ischnomantis gigas
Iris oratoria - Mediterranean mantis
Liturgusa lichenalis - Lichen mantis
Macromantis hyalina
Mantis religiosa - European mantis
Miomantis caffra - South African mantis
Miomantis paykullii - Egyptian mantis
Miomantis abyssinica - Egyptian mantis
Odontomantis sp. - Ant mantis
Oligonicella scudderi - Scudder's mantis
Orthodera novaezealandiae - New Zealand mantis
Otomantis sp. - Boxer mantis
Oxyopsis gracilis - Peruvian mantis
Oxyopsis peruviana - Peruvian mantis
Oxyothespis dumonti
Paramantis prasina
Parasphendale agrionina - Bud-winged mantis
Parasphendale affinis - African banded mantis
Paratoxodera cornicollis - Giant Malaysian stick mantis
Phyllocrania paradoxa - Ghost mantis
Phyllovates chlorophaea
Plistospilota guineensis
Polyspilota aeruginosa
Popa spurca - twig mantis
Pseudocreobotra ocellata - Spiny flower mantis
Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii - Spiny flower mantis
Pseudovates arizonae - Arizona unicorn mantis
Rhombodera basalis - Giant Malaysian shield mantis
Rhombodera extensicollis - Giant shield mantis
Rhombodera megaera - Giant shield mantis
Rivetina baetica - Ground mantis
Stagmatoptera biocellata
Stagmomantis californica- California mantis
Sphodromantis balachowskyi
Stagmomantis Carolina - Carolina mantis
Stagmomantis limbata - Bordered mantis
Stagmomantis floridensis - Florida mantis
Sibylla pretiosa
Tamolanica tamolana
Tarachodes afzelii
Tarachodula pantherina
Theopropus elegans - Elegant mantis
Tisma freyi
Taumantis sigiana - Lime-green mantis
Tenodera australasiae
Tenodera angustipennis - Narrow-winged mantis
Tenodera aridifolia sinensis - Chinese mantis
Toxodera denticulata - Giant Malaysian stick mantis
Yersiniops sophronicum - Yersin's ground mantis
Yersiniops solitarium - Horned ground mantis
Zoolea lobipes

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Feeding Praying Mantis

While the nymphs are small it is best to feed them small insects such as fruit flies, aphids or micro crickets. It is always a good idea to have a supply of these ready for when you receive your nymph (size of food depends on age of nymph ordered). Its best to feed them as much as they will eat, but you must be careful as I've heard that their abdomen can bust if over fed.

As the nymphs grow, they can move onto larger foods such as crickets, locus, wax worms, meat flies and other insects. The mantis can easily take prey as large as themselves and of their own species. Remember any creepy crawly is food for the mantis.

Try to vary the food given as much as possible, too much of the same food (mainly crickets) can make the mantis weak. Any uneaten food should be taken out of the container due to the mantis being venerable while sheading. This also includes any half-eaten dead insects, as mould can form on these.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hungry Mantis

As you can see from the photographs this hungry mantis captured and killed a hummingbird not much smaller than itself. The mantis used its spiny left foreleg to impale the hummingbird through the chest while leaving his right leg free.
We surmised that the mantis ran the hummer through and dangled its full weight on its foreleg while he consumed the flesh of the hummingbird from the abdomen. After he had his fill, the mantis gave his foreleg several swift jerks and freed his leg.

Giant Asian Praying Mantis

Hierodula trimaculata
Giant Malaysian Praying Mantis, this vigorous eater is large and typical praying mantis apperance.

Have you ever seen any of those 1950's B-Movies - where a Colossal 200ft Mantis is terroising New York - pulling down sky scrapers??? - Well, they look just like that - but a bit smaller!!!
The colour can vary from greens, browns and creams. When adult, they can measure upto a whacking 100 - 110 mm in size (dependent on the sex - girls are bigger than boys). They are a heavily built Mantis, strong enough to rip apart and eat fully grown Locuts. Looking very similar to the Giant Asian and Giant Indian Mantis, this is a great large species to keep.

Living in Malaysia, they should be maintained in a relatively hot environment, with a temperature of 22 - 30C (71.6 - 86F), with the humidity in the region of 60 - 70%. Tolerant to the temperature and humidity irregularities, this makes them a hardy species.

Giant Malaysian Praying Mantis

Hierodula membranacea
The Giant Asian Praying Mantis is a large typical looking praying mantis from Asia

A classic looking praying Mantis .Colours vary from green to yellow-green or brown to reddish-brown. Measure roughly 80 - 90mm in size when adult this again makes them a large specie to own. Due to their size, they are heavily built and look similar to the Giant Indian and Giant Malaysian Mantis.

East-South Asia. Living in hot and humid climates they can be maintained with a temperature of 22 - 30C (71.6 - 86F), with the humidity in the region of 60 - 70%. If this is not quite right, don't panic! - they'll be fine.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ghost Praying Mantis

Phyllocrania paradoxa

The Ghost Praying Mantis is a madagascan praying mantis with leaf like projections on the legs and head.

This small species grows to aprox. 45-50mm in length when adult. They look similar to the Dead Leaf Mantis, looking like a dead dried up leaf.
A twisted leaf protrudes from the head and on the prothorax (neck) it is flattened with pointed triangular extensions on each side. The walking legs have broken leaf shaped lobes attached and the abdomen also has extensions on either side. Veins run through the wings when adult, making them able to camouflage even better! The colours range from an almost black to a light tan. The males are easily recognised compared to the females, due to their long antennae, almost transparent wings and olive colour.

These are a long-lived Mantis, shedding their skin like other species aprox. every 3-5 weeks until the 4th shed. From here on they eat infrequently and the last shed before adult hood can take aprox. 2 months.
They come from Africa and Madagascar. This species likes to be kept warm at a temperature of 25-30C (77-86F). A heat mat may be needed during the winter months, but in summer you should be fine at room temperature - make sure they are not kept near any drafts! While young spray them 5 -7 times a week with a fine mister. When nearly adult take this down to aprox. 3 times a weeks.

Egyptian Praying Mantis

Miomantis abyssinica, paykullii and pharaonica

The Egyptian Praying Mantis is a small, slender species of praying mantis from Egypt. They range in colour from straw to green

This is a small, slender Mantis, measuring 35 - 40mm in length. The females are slightly bigger and heavier in build, where as the males can be 5mm longer in length, but are both still very dainty. Mimicking grass stems in the wild, they range from straw like colours going through to light greens.

Depending on the species they range from Africa, Egypt and Tanzania. Needing slightly hot and dry conditions, this is a hardy specimen. Having a temperature in the region of 22 - 35 (71.6 - 95F), this is slightly warmer then room temperature. Keep the humidity level in the region of 60 - 70%, this should suit the Mantis

Dead Leaf Praying Mantis

Deroplatys desiccata, lobata and truncata
Dead Leaf Praying Mantids mimic decaying, crumpled leaves in Malaysia hence how they get their name.
This spinney looking fellow is camouflaged to mimic decaying, crumpled leaves. The colours range from a mottled brown, pale orangey brown through to an almost black. Size depends on species and sex, but range from 75 - 85mm in size. Females are substantially larger and heavier then males.

If you disturb them, they will gently rock as if they have been caught in the breeze. And if they feel threatened, they will throw them selves to the ground, lying motionless on the floor.
Malaysia. All of these species can be found here as well as Borneo, Indonesia and Sumatra. Being hot countries, you should keep the temperature at about 25 - 30C with a humidity in the region of 70 - 80%. This is slightly warmer and more humid than other species of Mantids are normally kept.

Chinese Praying Mantis

Tenodera aridifolia sinensis
The Chinese Praying Mantis is a large common mantis originating from China but lives in the USA
A long and thin praying mantis with the colours ranging in different shades of browns. When adult, they have a green lateral stripe down the side of the wing case. They also have a small spike on the four walking legs. Being quite a large Mantis, the adult size varies from 85 - 100mm in length (Dependent on the sex). This species originates from China but can be found in the USA too. This species inhabits grasslands in moderate climates. The environment temperatures should be inbetween 20 - 26C (68 - 78.8F), and the humidity in the region of 60 - 65%.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bud Wing Praying Mantis

Parasphendale affinis

The Bud Wing Praying Mantis is a medium praying mantis from kenya with small bud wings.

When females turn adult you can really see why we call them Bud Wing Praying Mantids, the wings only cover part of the females abdomen. Females can grow to 70mm in length, the males are very small at 30mm. Adult Males wings covers and passes the abdomen, which makes it an excellent flier.

Their colour is a mixture of browns and grays with the very rare occasion of a green type! They have large pink coloured beady eyes - excellent for hunting prey.

When threatened, they open and stretch out there arms to show a bright colour of orange/yellow. Wings are opened on the adults to appear larger then they are, showing a dark colour of black/red.

African Praying Mantis

The African Praying Mantis is medium sized and typical mantis appearance. They range in shades of browns and greens depending on the species and humidity levels

As the name suggests they can be found throughout most of Africa.

Being a medium to large Mantis, the adult size varies from 60 - 80mm in length (Dependent on the species and sex). Both sexes are capably of flight when adults, but the female become to heavy with eggs that they mealy jump instead of flighing