Insects > Mantis > What do Praying Mantis Eat?

What Do Praying Mantis Eat to Keep Them Fit As a Fiddle

An unlucky cricket being eaten by a MantisAn unlucky cricket being eaten by a Mantis

The praying mantis is an insect belonging to the order of Mantodea that contains over 2400 species and 430 genera. Their normal habitats are temperate and tropical zones. Even though in English, most species in this order go by the name, "praying mantis," in Europe it refers to only a single species called Mantis religiosa. This insect got its name from holding its huge front forelimbs together in a prayer like posture.

Devoid of a larvae stage similar to other insects and blessed with a lifespan of about 12 months, this diurnal (active in daylight) insect grows to lengths of 3 to 4 inches, which is quite long for insects. The long and spiked forelegs facilitate ample movement to catch and securely hold the prey. It can turn its head each way by 180 degrees, facilitating a better view. These insects, though ferocious looking, do not bite, are docile by nature and earn an excellent reputation as a pet. One cannot stop his fascination for this mantis that laid the foundation for the quick development of several Chinese martial arts systems like the Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu that draw upon the predatory techniques of the praying mantis.

These insects mate in the fall and at this time, it displays a weird incident of sexual cannibalism, when the female mantises rip off their male sexual partner’s head and continue the intercourse, while starting its meal of the male. Very little to wonder, “What do praying mantis eat,” is it not?

Their diet

When you consider what do praying mantis eat, you come across an exclusively carnivorous insect; its feed comprising of a diverse range of insect species, which include grasshoppers, flies, mosquitoes, butterflies, beetles, bees, dragonflies, and the like. The larger mantises also prey on small frogs, rodents, lizards and birds. The sophisticated camouflage adopted by these insects helps them enormously in the hunting process, which is fast and efficient when the prey comes within the range of its flexible spiny legs.

Hobbyists rearing praying mantis as pets must make sure that they learn, ‘what do praying mantis eat,” and arrange the proper kind of live food that enhances their nutrition. Feeding a live mantis in captivity is not difficult. However, make sure that you feed them well, failing which, the female mantises may revert to their cannibalistic tendencies on the unsuspecting male.


This mantis caught a butterfly to eatAn unlucky cricket being eaten by a Mantis

Exoskeleton: The praying mantis has a long body and a hard exoskeleton (outer shell), which resembles plastic to the touch and covers the entire body including the eyes, like an armor. The separate plates that constitute the exoskeleton stay connected by an elastic tissue, which allows flexibility to the insects.

Head and Eyes: A triangular-shaped head with sharp teeth facilitate these insects to chew and eat their live prey and the two long antennae help to sense food availability. It can turn its head 180 degrees each way and can discern prey from distances of almost 60 feet. These insects have a pair of compound eyes made up of hundreds of lenses that can see images and colors, besides 3 eyes located between the antennae, which differentiate between light and dark.

Legs and ear: With three pairs of jointed legs, the praying mantis uses its spiked front pair to hold the prey, and keeps them folded in a praying position. Both the legs and the four wings attach themselves to the thorax. A slit in the underside of the thorax serves as its only ear.


Our Mantis care sheet makes it simple to care for this fun and educational pet.



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