WSU Extension


Praying Mantid
Praying mantid 

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Caption: The praying mantid (Mantis religiosa) (Mantidate)
Photo by: D.G. James
Praying Mantid : Praying mantid
(revision date: 10/4/2018)

Amongst the largest (1-4 inches) and most recognizable of garden predators, praying mantids are not fussy about what they catch and eat. They are ‘sit and wait’ predators that pounce on any insect that comes too close, including beneficials like bees and butterflies. The most common species in the Pacific Northwest is the European mantid (Mantis religiosa). Praying mantids are most often seen from mid summer to mid autumn and are killed off by the first frosts after laying a number of white, hardened foam egg cases which overwinter attached to branches, trunks etc. Mantids kill and consume good numbers of pests like caterpillars and flies, but their contribution to garden pest control is usually less than their large as life image!

Prey or Pest Targeted
  • Flies, wasps, bees, caterpillars, moths, butterflies
Attracting and Keeping Natural Enemies & Pollinators in Your Yard
  • Avoid regular use of synthetic, broad-spectrum pesticides. Infrequent use of certain narrow-spectrum pesticides is more compatible with some beneficials but generally the less chemical inputs there are, the greater and more diverse the beneficial insect community will be. Extensive lawns are also not conducive to attracting and retaining a diversity of beneficial insects, mites and spiders. Minimize lawn areas and maximize shrub and bush plantings. Many beneficials reside naturally in riparian and other ‘natural’ areas near to many back yards. Natural dispersion from these refuges ensures that some beneficials will visit back yards but they will not stay unless food, host and shelter resources are available. Native plants have closer affinities with native insects and therefore provide most of these resources. A garden with a good diversity of local native flora in and around back yards, will improve the abundance and diversity of local, beneficial arthropods. Native flora also provides natural overwintering sites for many beneficial insects and it is useful to leave at least a small area of native vegetation undisturbed during fall and winter.
  • Some kinds of beneficial insects (e.g. lady beetles, lacewings, predatory mites) are available for purchase from commercial suppliers. However, benefits from introducing these beneficials are usually limited and short-lived. Upon release, commercially obtained lady beetles and lacewings often disperse and may rapidly leave your backyard despite the presence of prey and suitable nectar resources. Generally, it is more effective and sustainable to create a garden habitat that will be colonized by beneficials naturally.


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Caption: The praying mantid (Mantis religiosa) (Mantidate)
Photo by: D.G. James
Caption: Mantids are not fussy about what they eat and will consume other beneficials, like this butterfly.
Photo by: D.G. James