Praying Mantises are known for the position of their front legs and their triangular heads.
Part of the Mantidids family, Praying Mantises are predators. They eat arthropods that get close enough for easy grabbing.
Other species also eat these bugs. This can be seen in the animal pet world where these bugs are offered as food to other species.
Even outside captivity, there are a few species known to eat these bugs.
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Species That Eat Praying Mantises
The following species can eat praying mantises either as a priority or as an occasional bug grab.
Frogs can eat small praying mantises. This doesn’t happen as often in captivity as some frogs prefer to stay away from these bugs.
Out in the wild, some types of frogs and toads can eat praying mantises.
In turn, praying mantises can also eat small frogs and mantises.
The bigger species always wins the duel in the case of frogs and praying mantises. Adult praying mantises can reach a size of 4-6 inches easily.
These adult bugs are the least likely to be consumed by the average frog which prefers smaller prey.
Praying mantis nymphs are likely to be eaten by frogs. Some of the smaller bugs of this genus such as the Chinese Praying mantis (only growing to a size of 3-4 inches in North America) are likely to be a target for frogs.
In turn, some large praying mantises can eat small frogs.
Lizards are common predators of small or nymph praying mantises. Lizards avoid large praying mantises as they can lose confrontations given these bugs can wrap their feet around the heads of lizards.
Small praying mantises do not have the strength of the leg length to defend themselves against large lizards.
When the praying mantis is large, it can use its folded front legs to wrap around the head and mouth of the lizard while attacking without much retaliation.
Small praying mantises cannot wrap their legs around lizards which means they can only escape by running.
Lizards are faster than these bugs which means praying mantises are certain victims to these slimy predators.
Chickens are some of the most common bird predators of praying mantises. Other small birds such as robins might also take on small praying mantises.
However, birds smaller than chickens have real difficulties eating praying mantises as they might end up eating themselves.
Some species of hummingbirds are known to fall prey to praying mantises to use camouflage to their advantage and even attack birds.
Chicken, on the other hand, are very good at killing praying mantises and they can even work together to eat a large bug.
Some species of snakes can eat praying mantises. In turn, praying mantises can take on baby snakes or earth snakes with small bodies.
Rattlesnakes and garter snakes are some of the most common snake species to eat praying mantises.
Even these powerful snakes prefer to eat smaller bugs and smaller praying mantises.
Milk snakes, some of the most common species across North America are also known to eat praying mantises.
Both snakes and praying mantises use coloring to their advantage when it comes to blending in with the environment.
Praying mantises are likelier to be preyed upon by the snakes that catch them by surprise.
The Western Coachwhip is one of the species likely to be seen as a fierce predator that takes on praying mantises of various sizes.
Spiders are some of the least likely creatures to go after praying mantises. They are mostly known for going after insects attracted to light.
Spiders can build silk webs to trap small insects. Spider webs aren’t strong or large enough to catch praying mantises.
However, venomous spiders don’t back down from small or medium-sized praying mantises.
Redback venomous spiders are known for attacking even large praying mantises. These spiders don’t eat large insects but they inject venom into them to paralyze them.
Redback and other venomous spiders may eat small praying mantises which they first wrap in spider silk after injecting venom to paralyze the prey.
Tarantulas can easily kill and eat praying mantises. Even larger praying mantises are easily killed by stronger and larger tarantulas.
Scorpions have a hard exoskeleton that resembles shrimps in hardness. This makes them more resistant to praying mantis bites in the case of a confrontation.
Furthermore, scorpions that manage to inject venom into praying mantises have already won the confrontation.
While praying mantises might still take on adult scorpions, they have little chance of success. Scorpions use their pincers to grab praying mantises and they rarely let go until they kill and eat parts of the bug.
Scorpions do not particularly favor praying mantises. They are mostly interested in smaller insects that are easier to handle.
However, scorpions might even try to kill and eat other scorpions which means they cannot get stuck on praying mantises given the opportunity.
Not all ants kill praying mantises. There are species of ants that immediately kill and sometimes eat praying mantises of any size if the bug is close to their nest.
Ants are very good at working together to defend nests and colonies. A single ant spotting a praying mantis can alert all other ants of the possible risk to the colony.
This triggers most ants to attack the praying mantis together.
Carpenter ants and fire ants are some of the species known to attack praying mantises and to eat these bugs as well as many other species of bugs.
These types of ants are fearless and they might even attack other ants as well as termites.
They only tend to look for praying mantises to consume once the bug gets in their range.
Female wasps are fierce predators. They can move on to attack various bugs and insects which includes praying mantises.
Females sting the young praying mantis to paralyze the bug before chewing it up into smaller pieces.
Some of these pieces are then transported by the female wasp back to the nest.
9. Large Hornets
Some of the most dangerous hornets have a love-hate relationship with praying mantises.
They engage in confrontations that can go their way in many cases. Praying mantises only kill large hornets when these flying insects are caught by surprise.
Asian Giant Hornets are among the invasive species in North America that can kill praying mantises.
The large hornets can also be killed by praying mantises in the right conditions.
Bats are some of the most successful predators of praying mantises. Both species tend to be active at night.
Bats are excellent nighttime hunters. They emit high-frequency sounds which they use to determine the location of praying mantises.
These bugs are safe as long as they don’t move. Whenever they move, the high-frequency sounds emitted by bats give away their location almost instantly.
Some research suggests bats are very good at picking out the location of moving praying mantises as these bugs are slower than others.
Almost all high-frequency sounds transmitted by bats lead it successful praying mantis localization.
11. Other Praying Mantis
Stories of cannibalism between praying mantises are true. These scenes are a common sight during the mating season.
The female praying mantis tries to kill and eat the male praying mantis soon after mating, mainly to get the nutrition needed for laying eggs.
Males have to be very agile to escape the fight. Otherwise, all males losing the fight end up eaten by the female.
Humans are some of the most common enemies of praying mantises.
Insecticides are often used in the garden against all types of pests. Various types of insecticides kill praying mantises in the garden.
Some of these chemicals directly impact the nervous system of praying mantises. Others eat away their outer shell or the exoskeleton essentially killing them.
Insecticides used against roaches or other garden pests indirectly target and kill praying mantises.
How Do Praying Mantis Defend Themselves
Praying mantises aren’t primarily interested in tackling all types of predators but they rarely back down if attacked, as they are also predators.
Here’s how these bugs defend themselves best.
The coloring of praying mantises is the first line of defense. These bugs camouflage themselves in dense vegetation so that enemies such as ants might not spot them easily.
Apart from camouflage coloring, praying mantises also hide. They are rarely seen on short grass out in the open as they prefer to hide in grasses and shrubs.
Praying mantises can fight back when attacked. Most of the predators that can eat these bugs are also attacked back.
Praying mantises are eaten by scorpions or hornets, but they can also attack these predators either without provocation or as a response to an attack.
Praying mantises are very good predators that don’t easily back down from any type of predator attack.
These bugs are eaten by other predators, especially when smaller.
Frogs, lizards, and birds are some of the most common species that kill praying mantises regularly.