At first glance, releasing more insects in your backyard might seem counterproductive – but the results speak for themselves. The praying mantis is not an insect alone. It’s also a one-stop-shop for all your pest-extermination-related needs.
The praying mantis is an extreme predator, which means it will take care of anything that surrounds it – and it will do so quickly. It can (and will!) eat any insect that’s harming your garden.
At the same time, it will not harm your precious plants because the praying mantis is carnivorous – it has no interest in eating plants.
Does the praying mantis eat a lot?
All praying mantises love to eat – and they love to eat so much they don’t care who or what is the next meal! If you’re wondering what could be in a mantis’s plate, here’s a small list:
Truth be told, a praying mantis does not discriminate – you could add all insects to this list. When there’s not enough food- praying mantises will begin to eat each other in extreme cases. That’s how far their appetite goes.
And if you think a praying mantis eats nothing but insects, you’d be wrong. Larger mantises will eat small rodents, birds, lizards, and frogs. If they can eat it, they will!
How does a praying mantis find food?
When it comes to hunting for food, a praying mantis is all about patience. They will sit for long periods, waiting for the right victim.
Once an insect lands nearby, the praying mantis will attack quickly and swiftly. The best part is, its victim will not know what hit it, as the mantis waits completely camouflaged with its surroundings.
The camouflage helps the praying mantis find food as much as it helps it escape from other predators. Certain mantis species can also change color to camouflage better.
Aided by camouflage and its great sense of sight, a praying mantis has total control over its environment. And when the praying mantis grabs its victim, it does not let go until feeding time is over.
How long does a praying mantis live?
They live for less than a year: they are born in spring and die close to the fall. They follow the same schedule as a garden’s growing season does.
When the praying mantis is close to the fall, it’ll lay its eggs in tree branches and similar objects. One praying mantis can lay over 200 eggs, ensuring the next generation of mantises can continue with no issues whatsoever.
A little after laying eggs, the mantis dies. During the spring, a new generation will hatch.
How can you get a praying mantis?
There are many places where you can purchases praying mantises for your garden. The best way to do it is to buy egg cases from an online supplier or garden center. You can also purchase already-hatched praying mantises.
If you’re going with egg cases, keep in mind each egg case has 200 eggs. With three egg cases, you can cover 5000 square feet. Keep the eggs in a refrigerator until it’s warm enough outdoors. Place them somewhere safe and wait until they hatch.
How to introduce the praying mantis’s eggs to your garden
Look for a secluded spot, preferably a tree branch that’s two feet off the ground. If it has filtered sunlight and is surrounded by pests, even better. Once you have found the perfect spot, gently tie the case to the branch and tie it there.
The eggs will hatch in less than two weeks. You will notice it right away thanks to the many mantises roaming around your garden. As soon as they are out and about, they’ll be ready to catch insects.
Keep in mind attaching the eggs on higher ground is mandatory. If you leave the eggs on the ground, they will be eaten by another insect. Keeping the eggs next to pests is required; otherwise, the mantises could eat each other due to hunger.
What do you need to keep in mind when you get a praying mantis?
The first thing you need to understand is that introducing a praying mantis in your garden is akin to the nuclear option when it comes to other insects. A praying mantis will feed off of anything it can find. If there’s a specific bug you’d like to keep in your garden, a praying mantis is not what you should get.
There are other alternatives, as well. You can trust pond frogs and toads to fend off pests. They love to eat crickets, beetles, slugs, among others. If you already own one of these animals, there’s no need to introduce mantises into the situation.
If you want to introduce a predator into your garden but for any reason don’t want to choose the praying mantis, you should know centipedes, and some spiders are great garden predators. Then again, if you’re going with an insect-type predator, the praying mantis is the best option available.
When it’s not a good idea to use praying mantises?
If you have a pollinator garden, introducing the praying mantis is not a good idea. A pollinator garden attracts all sorts of fantastic little creatures, such as hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees. A praying mantis will not discriminate when it comes to food: it will eat those too.
This is also a warning: if you find a praying mantis in your pollinator garden, it’d be best if you relocate it somewhere else, preferably somewhere filled with pests. Relocating a praying mantis away from bird feeders is a good idea as well. If small birds tend to visit your garden, a praying mantis is a bad idea.
All in all, you should put your trust in the praying mantis if you want your garden swept clean – but if other small creatures are also welcome, a praying mantis is better off somewhere else.