Beneficial of the Month - The Praying Mantis

Got too many grasshoppers in your garden? Have no fear, if praying mantises are around, they will make short work of excess garden insects both beneficial and not. As a natural insect control, praying mantises have huge appetites and are accomplished hunters. They will capture and devour live moths, beetles, flies, mosquitoes, aphids, ladybugs, butterflies, spiders, and grasshoppers and, each other! Dependent on their size, they can capture even small tree frogs, dragonflies, lacewings, lizards, small rodents, and hummingbirds – the list is exhaustive! Mantises are the only insect that can turn their head and look over their shoulder and they are closely related to cockroaches and termites. They get their name from how they fold their front limbs which are used for lightening speed prey capture. Of the 2,000 worldwide species of praying mantises, about 18 inhabit North America. Some mantises can sense the ultrasound produced by bats and thus carry out a series of crazy aerial stunts to avoid being predated on. Others are adorned with amazing abstract-looking appendages and colors. At this time of year, mantises are laying their eggs on twigs and building surfaces and almost any other surface you can find near and in your garden. The egg case or ootheca looks like a science project made from Styrofoam – a tan or cream-ridged cocoon that contains 100-400 young. The eggs within the case will last through winter until the voracious young or nymphs hatch in spring. Unfortunately, only a few will survive as they are cannibalistic. To attract these beneficial insects to your garden, plant roses and raspberry, tall grasses, and shrubbery. You can also purchase mantis egg cases from several Canadian suppliers and garden stores. Watch an amazing video of a praying mantis laying eggs and those eggs hatching Praying Mantis Life Cycle