Close up of a praying mantis

5 Praying Mantis Facts

Ehrlich Pest Control

The praying mantis – an undeniably impressive insect. Carnivorous and camouflaged, the praying mantis gets its name for the way their front legs are bent in a “praying” motion. Most mantis species are colored green or brown so they can blend in with leaves and foliage which enables them to patiently stalk insects like flies and grasshoppers.

The fearsome predators are capable of killing prey 3 times its size. Praying mantises feed on insects, mice, small turtles and even snakes. Striking twice as fast as a blink of an eye, praying mantises will slowly devour the unfortunate prey slowly with its ultra sharp mandibles.

The praying mantis is widely viewed as a beneficial insect as they eat many different types of other insects that may be harmful to humans. Common praying mantis species in the United States, include the native Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis Carolina) and non-native Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis. To help further your knowledge about this unique type of insect, we have compiled some amazing praying mantis facts below.

1. A Gardener’s Best Friend

praying mantis

Some gardeners have used praying mantis to control other insects but other bugs like lady beetles have been found to be much more effective. The insect-eating machines practice their own form of home pest control with their triangular heads that turns 180 degrees, large eyes and serrated legs perfect for snacking on garden pests. However, the praying mantis does not know the difference between beneficial and non-beneficial insects so the predators could do more harm than good in some instances.

2. Young Cannibals

One of the most popular praying mantis facts is the penchant for cannibalism in many species. Females of some praying mantis species will actually eat the male when mating with a male. After the male performs a complex mating dance, the female will bite the head or legs off the male during the mating act. However, in the wild, it is said that this praying mantis “sexual cannibalism” occurs less that 30% of the time. A Hollywood movie about a murderous bride in 1993 was even entitled, Praying Mantis, in honor of the unique mating ritual

3. Small Spectacles 

praying mantis

Praying mantises have been receiving some recent media coverage for their collaboration with scientists from Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience. The scientists have been fitting super-small 3D glasses on praying mantises. The research team says that the study may be able to help us program algorithms that will allow for 3D vision for robots. Mantises were selected as they are the only insect proven to have 3D vision like humans. Thus far, the scientists have said that the mantises have not been bothered by the glasses and have gone about their cricket-eating business as usual. Praying Mantises have a pair of compound eyes that are made up of thousands of miniature eyes in some cases.

4. Your Praying Pet

praying mantis 4

Praying mantises are actually quite popular pets. Insect enthusiasts can find complete praying mantis care starter kits online and you can also purchase praying mantis nymph eggs from some garden centers. Each species of mantis requires specific conditions to thrive, especially temperature and humidity. Make sure you research your species of praying mantis thoroughly. Most praying mantis care websites recommending feeding them an assortment of live insects. If properly cared for, praying mantises can live as pets for over a year. While a praying mantis will bite if provoked, their bites are not venomous and are cause little harm to humans.

5. A Master of Disguise 

praying mantis

One of the most fascinating aspects of praying mantises has to be the many ways the different species camouflage themselves from their preys.  Species that live on the ground floor tend to be spotted brown while species that live in trees are most often green and leaf-like. As this BuzzFeed gallery displays, the praying mantis, although extremely deadly, can be stunningly beautiful. The flower mantis for example mimics different species of flowers.

For more insight into unique insects, visit our pest guides.

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Do you have questions or comments about these praying mantis facts? Share below in the comments! 

Ehrlich Pest Control
Ehrlich Pest Control

Since our founding in 1928, Ehrlich Pest Control has grown to over 100 local offices serving both residential and commercial customers throughout the Eastern U.S. Long lasting relationships with colleagues and customers is a cornerstone of our success. Many Ehrlich colleagues have been with the company for 25, 30 and 40-plus years.


  1. Thanks! Found one on our window and my son was fascinated by the videos posted


    • I dont have an answer but i would like to know the answer also because i have found 3 in my bedroom since last sunday

      • Hi Johnny and Yolonda,

        I asked one of our Technical colleagues and got the below response to your question.

        “A praying mantis is predacious–they feed mainly on insects smaller than they are including flies, moths, crickets, etc. As such, a praying mantis is usually found on plants, grass or other vegetation where it can catch its food. So, if a praying mantis is found inside of a house, it is likely that it wound up there entirely by accident–likely through an open window or door, or maybe was accidentally carried in on a potted plant or an object that was sitting outside. Also, some praying mantids are attracted to porch lights at night, so they may have been drawn to the house and then accidentally found their way inside.
        If you find a praying mantis indoors, take it outside as soon as possible. Remember they feed on living organisms (most commonly insects), and outdoors is where their food will be.
        Also, if many nymphs were found inside at once, then likely a praying mantis egg case was accidentally brought inside at some point…these cases can contain 200 or more eggs.”

  3. My question is, Is there a reason why one sees so many after Not seeing them for years ? Today is October 4,2015…I have seen them since July. I have not seen a Prayenmamtis in 20 yes or more. This ur I have seen 4 within the last 3 months ! Just now as I’m going Out my back door there was one in my Laundry room . He was on a metal leg of a fold up step stool! I gently cupped him in a towel and brought him to my yard. I always thought they were a rare insect . Old myth I have heard is that , they bring Good Luck . That I do Not believe in!! Lol

  4. Date I sent the above is October 4, 2015 not 4/10/2015 . I must have typed wrong number.. Sry… Susan

    • They cannot sting, if bitten and you feel it, just wash your hands with soap and water. They will not harm you. People often keep them as pets (no reason to do this) but I often have to relocate them if they are where my dogs might get them. If you extend your hand slowly in front of the face, kinda from below so they can see your hand -versus from above, they usually dont get startled or feel threat and will gently walk on to your hand and you can move to a safe spot. I have a very large female thats been living in my front yard all summer. Now that its getting cold she will lay her eggs and soon she will die. Shes done a super job saving my roses this year!

  5. I have had a praying mantis on my screen door for several weeks. I’ve left him alone because he’s not bothering anything. I noticed he’s already shed and is still hanging on to my screen door, not going anywhere… He was on the inside of my screened in porch and I put him out so he could survive. Can you tell me why he’s hanging on to my screen door for so long?

  6. so i had seen this tiny baby praying mantis on my stair case outside my apartment, i picked it up and showed my kids. they got excited and thought of Kung fu panda. days went by and i had noticed it was back! a bit bigger but this time on my window screen. instead of green it was changing to a brownish color. didn’t know if it was dying or morphing into something bigger. a couple days went by AGAIN, and i open my curtains only to see “MANTIS” (kids named him after cartoon character) on our window! I’ve taken him down stairs several times and put him in the bushes but he keeps coming back! funny.

  7. I found a mantis on my window one day trying to catch flies that were inside from the outside. Being a nice person I put him on the window inside. It cleared all the flies and I even got to watch it eat 3. Later I put it back outside and it has been hanging out on my porch for the last week. Have I made a friend who will continue to stay? If so what can I do for him? Thank you in advance.

  8. Found one outside for days by door never moved so took in fed now she’s pregnant and wife wants her gone but can’t bare sending her and almost kids into the woods. Suggestions? Shelter at school? Please help, Torn

  9. I don’t know why but , I was watching TV one morning and the thought of a praying mantis came to my mind for some reason and being curious, I always keep my iPad close by in case a thought, topic or definition of a word crosses my mind so that I can look something up. I searched Praying Mantis and found the articles I read very interesting. As a kid growing up, I was led to believe that they are nasty little critters that if threatened, were capable of spitting out a liquid in self defense. They actually could do this from a distance of 3 feet! lol. The mythical things we learn as children amazes me sometimes! lol. I wish I had known the truth about them all those years ago. I always was scared of them . They do look harmful as a kid who knows nothing about them. I’m glad I read these articles even if it was 50 years after the fact! lol

  10. I grew up in Michigan and used to see them often and never had a problem holding them. Then a few years ago while living in Texas I had one land on me and bit me, hurt worse then a bee sting. It really surprised me because I grew up being told they didn’t bit. Out of all the times I picked them up I never got bit, but that one time I felt like it attacked me and it hurt a lot.

    • I found mantids cute and friendly. I’d be reading on a summer night and, quite a few times, one would crawl over the top of my book and land on the bridge of my glasses! I’d wait for them to pick their way across me off into the dark.

      My grandfather was a farmer who often experimented with organic pest control. I don’t remember if he tried importing mantids or not, but some people did, and I heard they were foreign species. They were much bigger and more aggressive and one zinged me with her claws, drawing blood, when I tried to make friends. Perhaps they predated on the native species because I saw very few little ones adter that.

  11. The above has been informative. I have had a Mantis in my flower garden for several weeks. It is a tanish color. I had no idea that it was so beneficial.

  12. I saw a white Mantis on my porch tonight , I told my son and he got very excited and got his phone and we took some pictures of videos of the white mantis I only thought they came in green but a quick Google search revealed they do come in white also I like mantises but I am a bit leery about bugs. But I would never harm a mantis

  13. I have one living by my front door for a few days now. In my garden i found a beetle & an inchworm. I brought them to him & he ate them both ( so amazing to watch!) I put an outside potted plant near him & he now made it his new home. Havent named him…….yet!

  14. I had a green one on porch for over a & today I unfortunately saw 2 tan ones eating him what was that about I wonder?

  15. I found 20 green and 1 brown what is the difference all them about the same size

  16. You say a mantis bite can cause very little harm to humans (very little harm)?

  17. Pray mantises usually remain in the same places and stay for long periods of time. There was a lady I used to work with who had one on her car and it stayed there for weeks with her driving and all. I guess once they find a spot that’s where they stay…. I’m terrified of them they just creep me out, I get my son or someone to move them if they are where I can see them. Just a major phobia of mine lol

  18. I’ve seen 3 in the last week which is odd considering I don’t recall seeing them very often,it is rare to see 1 but to see 3 in that short amount of time ? Anyway I hate bugs but have never had an issue with them,I wouldn’t even think of harming one ….I just think they’re sorta cool & can only hope they bring about good luck cuz I need all the help I can get

  19. Two weeks ago I rescued a struggling praying mantis from a lot of dust on my patio she became very attached to me after that so I put her in and insect habitat and set her up a very nice place to live and now I am buying insects to feed to my insect and I cannot believe it I am 71 years old I am love with a praying mantis and I know that when she dies I will cry. I do believe she is very attached to me also she loves to walk all over me and then willingly goes back into her little habitat.

    • Don’t put her in with another mantis. I made this mistake last week, and shortly after I did it, I found the brown one eating the head of the beautiful green one. It was sad to say the least. I didn’t know they were cannibalistic, or that the females would often eat the males after mating. They do the neatest thing. They rub their abdomen against their wings, and make a hissing sound, I guess to scare off a would be predator. I love them.

  20. I SAW A brown MANTIS THIS summer. ARE THEY common? ALWAYS SAW GREEN o as IN the past

  21. Last year a praying mantis clung to the outside of my back screen door way up into January. By that time I figured it was dead and freeze-dried, so I took it down and saved it. Now this year I have a huge one clinging to the screen outside the patio door, and I’m assuming it is dead or dying. It’s so big – I’ll probably have to save it too. I wonder why screen wire? Near the house is no doubt warmer, maybe more attractive as we go into winter. Anyway, I’m very glad to have them around – I avoid bug spray in my garden because the bees have such problems already – so I’m glad the mantises are feeling at home to handle the whiteflies on the tomatoes. Wish they’d do something about the Japanese beetles on the flowers!

  22. I had two ficus trees on back deck over the summer. I brought them in when the weather got cold. I just recently have noticed baby praying mantis in my house. What should i do? I have put them out side but after reading the posts maybe not the best thing to do. Please reply to [email protected].

  23. That’s great info. I saw it first time . It’s brown color. Someome told me it’s name. This post has enlightened me.

  24. Oh my goodness I didn’t know they could bite. I had so many mantis’ in my yard they were jumping on my head while weeding and watering my gardens. They were so tiny and everywhere I went. We would pick them up and watch them as they got bigger, but didn’t k ow they could bite and never did. Even the bigger ones. Idk if tell my daughter because I don’t want her to fear them. I want her to line bugs. I did have to move over half of the mantis’ because there were so many they were literally wiping out all my butterflies and skippers I work so hard to attract and submit to data sites for butterflies and I couldn’t let it go on. So I moved about 17 of them to a wildlife field and made sure they would live happily ever after. Yo be honest they actually looked at me as if they knew what I was doing and one of them refused to leave. It jumped on the box then my arm then in my trunk. Eventually I took it to a field of flowers and it got on a plant. I really hope they’re ok and feel a bit bad, but I they were wiping out what I work so hard to attract .
    They weren’t eating any of the grasshoppers or crickets. Hopefully the rest I left in my gardens take it easy on my butterflies since I moved them to A flowerless garden with a variety of plants.

  25. There was a baby hummingbird sitting on dead branch of potted plant every morning.yesterday there was praying mantis on branch and dead baby bird at base of plant. I did not know they could kill a bird if that’s what happened

  26. I had a praying mantis on my front step, it was hanging upside down and later I found it on its back. Is this normal behavior or I’m worried it maybe due to pesticides. Thanks

  27. If you are a hummingbird lover and have feeders on your property, keep praying Mantises away!!! I found it hard to believe, but mantises eat hummingbirds… they are very quick moving insects.. and I’d rather have hummingbirds than mantises anytime..

  28. I have a green mantis on my screen door right now. She is so cool! She’s been checking me out all afternoon. Very curious little thing. I hope she hangs out for a while. Hopefully my hummer is quick enough to avoid her. Haha!

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