The Praying Mantis is a highly effective predator with a voracious appetite , they consume dozens of Garden pests and should be included in any organic or integrated pest management scheme.
The correct name for a Praying Mantis is actually Praying Mantid, but is most commonly referred to as the praying mantis. In North America the praying mantis averages 3-4 inches in length, worldwide they are up to a foot long and some can actually catch and eat small birds.
They are carnivorous, winged insects, best known for the motionless, prayer-like pose they assume while hunting their next meal. They can turn their heads 180 degrees and see up to sixty feet away with large compound eyes. Common Praying mantis can be brown or green in color. This serves as camouflage for the mantises and also attracts their insect prey .
A praying mantis life cycle begins as an egg in an an egg case containing up to 400 eggs. Praying mantis nymphs hatch in the spring from eggs of their parents the prior season. Generally the stronger nymphs eat the weaker ones making its brother or sister its first meal.
As the Praying mantis matures it eats just about anything that moves grasshoppers, leafhoppers, aphids, mosquitoes , beetles, spiders, moths you name it. One generation of Praying mantis will mature to adulthood each season.
In the fall the female Praying mantis will lay eggs and die approximately 3 weeks later. If you gave birth to up to 400 young , you'd probably drop dead also.
Praying mantis egg cases contain 100-400 eggs and the egg cases should be spread at a rate of 3 egg cases per 5000 square feet. Praying mantis will start to eat as soon as they emerge from their cases.
They are especially effective on moths . Due to the moth's large size and the fact that moths are nocturnal and along with bats are some of the few predators that will hunt at night.