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Praying mantis Preys on Insect Pests

by Karen Lawson, All About Lawns Columnist

The praying mantis, with its large size and exaggerated forelimbs, my remind you of a monster from a horror movie. Its foreboding appearance aside, the praying mantis is very beneficial to your garden. Try introducing these fascinating insects to your backyard and garden. 

Egg Cases Available for Purchase

During fall, praying mantis females deposit a sticky egg case on the underside of a leaf or on a twig. If the egg case survives winter, the babies, called nymphs, emerge in late spring or early summer. The nymphs have voracious appetites and typically cannibalize each other if they don't have an adequate supply of aphids and other small insects. Egg cases are commercially available for placement in your landscaping. Suppliers recommend using about 3 egg cases for 5000 square feet. It's possible to raise praying mantis, but this requires providing plentiful insects for captive mantids. Buying egg cases is probably the easiest way to go for most gardeners.

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Praying Mantids Reduce Backyard Pests

Establishing a praying mantis population can help reduce the number of flies, mosquitoes, and moths outdoors. Moth larvae can do significant damage to ornamental and food bearing plants. Some mantids may also catch grasshoppers and locusts. Although the praying mantis holds its forelegs in a manner suggesting prayer, it uses them to capture insects. Its hunting abilities are an asset to your garden, while the mantis' size allows for easy observation.

Play it Safe with Beneficial Bugs

Using pesticides can kill praying mantids and other beneficial insects. If you have pests that mantids can't control, you might want use beneficial insects such as ladybugs and green lacewings to help control insects not hunted by praying mantids. If you're plagued by insect pests in your garden, it's time to invite the praying mantis over for dinner!


Ohio State University Factsheet: Praying Mantis

About the Author
Karen Lawson is a freelance writer with an avid interest in gardening and horticulture. She earned BA and MA degrees in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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