Praying mantis in my backyard


I was doing a little work in the back yard yesterday when I cam across a praying mantis. I don't see too many, and this one was a handsome specimen so I took a couple of photos. I also shot a video, but he didn't do much other than lick his foreleg for a while. Maybe I'll upload it later on.



  1. The look on its face suggests it’s either contemplating you as a meal or perhaps maybe just getting ready to perform some slight of hand: “Nothing up my sleeve! Ahhhh! Dinner theatre!”

  2. Many years ago I was bent over in my parents backyard doing something-or-other. As I was straightening up my eyes became level with a deck chair on which stood a mantis. I intended on checking him out for as long he stayed around. Except he took a shot at my nose with enough force to back me up and away. He didn’t move after that so umm, he won!

  3. I wonder if these are native or not? I have seen 2 in the wild at 2 different parts of California. Someone told me it was native to Indonesia. But local nurseries sell Mantis Eggs which I guess eat up garden pests. When the eggs hatch, 100’s of mini mantids are born!

  4. V, this month’s national geographic has an amazing picture of a praying mantis hanging out on a hummingbird feeder waiting…

  5. This mantid appears to be a female. You should be able to find some egg cases around the yard on plant stems or even on the fence…

  6. Beautiful creatures. I caught some on camera a couple of years ago, they’re still in my desktop wallpaper rotation.

    As a six-year old I found one mantis feasting on half another in our garden. Many years later I found out she was probably engaging in a bit of post-coital cannibalism.

  7. I saw a baby mantis on my strawberries yesterday. It must be mantis hatching time (it’s spring here).

  8. In my experience, preying mantis are territorial. I can often find the same mantis over and over in the same general spot throughout the summer. For example, the last few years in the spring I’ve found a baby mantis on our pawpaw tree (still just bush size). I can usually go find him or her again by just checking the tree. All summer long. They even tend to hang out on the same branch.

    Oh, and watching them change colors for camouflage is fun too. Pick them up and put them on something brown.

  9. I’ve heard tale of these bugs. I, myself, have purchased dozens of these casings for my garden to check them diligently for a swarming mass of their larval selves, summer after summer, year after year, NADA.

    Will they live in the zone Brooklyn is in? Sorry I’m lazy but I just know a BB’er out there who can answer this with one finger tapping.

  10. We have tons of them here in Maryland. It’s a lot of fun to touch their antennae and have them end up pointing in different wacky directions. Or to wiggle your fingers and have them follow with their head.

    Yes, I have very few friends.

  11. Do they eat spiders? Seriously I’m living the movie Arachnophobia here. So many spiders…I opened up the ‘green’ bin of the trash today – what you are supposed to put your tree clippings, leaves, etc in – it was full of course but when I opened it the whole top layer started to move, shift, scuttle. No it’s not Halloween anymore but I jumped back. Better yet between the street light pole and one of my bushes across the sidewalk was a huge intricate spider web that I almost ran smack into the middle of. I am glad I did not. I wish I knew what kind of spider it was but it was a ginormous beastie, black body and white markings. It was beautiful.

    Was it mean to leave the web intact so wayward skaters would be webbed?

  12. Dear moderator, I forgot to specifically ask Mark for his email address or to include mine in the last post about seeing a praying mantis in South kalimantan.


    On a boat in South Kalimantan, Indonesia, I saw a praying mantis climb up the side of a candle and punch the flame until it disfigured itself. I was able to photograph the process of self immolation and am happy to send the photo to anyone who would like to see it or hazard a guess. My email is [redacted] and dont mind if the moderator publishes that email address.

    1. You can put a link to a Flickr set in a comment here. And you really don’t want your e-mail published here. Trust me.

  13. A few years ago, we found a male praying mantis out on the back porch shadow-boxing nothing. He did it for a few days. At one point, we found him in the bathroom doing so and made a short (out of focus) video of him doing it:

    After a few more hours of boxing nothing, we found him dead on the floor. Succumbed to the invisible enemy.


  14. Commenter #3 aka “V” …I thought this was a joke until I looked at the photos. Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ on a crutch! A *bug* that can kill a bird? That is wrong.

  15. Zorak, where have you been?! Is anyone else thinking about Space Ghost Coast to Coast?

    That is a great shot.

    1. Always.

      Funny, I never saw any mantises as a kid. Walking sticks in the garage, yes. Totally creepy. I’ve been finding mantises more in the last few years. Had one this spring. Might be part of the reason we had fewer insect issues this year. Well, that and no summer to speak of. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a good year for peppers or tomatoes in southeast Michigan.

  16. my favorite bug for sure. i like to get a little stick and hold it in front of them and sometimes they’ll spar with you like the little ninjas they are.

  17. we had a mess of them last year in chicago… brown and green ones. we had a big patch of milkweed in our back yard, which attracted all sorts of bugs through out the summer, and the mantis were always hanging out in the milkweeds waiting to attack the large milkweed bugs or grasshoppers.

    between my neighbors yard and mine, we counted 13 egg sacs, but alas we didn’t have the same number of bugs this year.

    1. I know this was a comment from a while ago, but hopefully you can help me out. I live in Chicago as well and was hoping to get some of these guys for my garden, but I’m not sure where you can get them. Were the ones near you wild mantids? Or if not, can you point me in the right direction to buy a few egg sacs?

  18. Definitely a female – remember, males are small and the females eat their crunchy little heads after mating. Mmmm.

    It is weird how they swivel their heads around and watch you.

  19. My mom bought mantis egg cases one year for our garden. They come out about a quarter inch long, and walking on all six legs, and are surprisingly cute, as they do the headtilt thing with their little triangular heads – I let one run around on my hand, and I HATE bugs. By the end of the summer, I saw a few six-inch monsters on the plants, and a lot less pest-bugs. Wasn’t getting anywhere near the big ones though!

    @bklynchris – They should be fine in Brooklyn, though they may need yearly replacing; my mom lives in CT.

    We’ve bought ladybugs for pest control, too.

  20. That’s a nice one.
    Back when I was a kid, praying mantises were everywhere. They were a regular feature of childhood summers. Now, though, it’s a rare thing to see one in the yard. Sad.

  21. Mantises are one of the few bugs that don’t cause me to go into panic mode immediately. They are just so freaking cool.

  22. We have them in our yard in LA and they are truly incredible creatures. I normally don’t really dig anything of the bug variety, but these are the closest to actual animal behavior I’ve ever witnessed.

    They are generally friendly and tamable – we had one chilling on an outside computer desk next to the lamp for a week. We would feed it and it would crawl up on your hand and perch on your shoulder to hang out.

    I have seen them raised and acclimated to “leashes” to take walks on. I’ve also seen them exhibit behavior similar to cats and dogs on protecting territory or cowering down.

    They do eat spiders, even black widows ( which we have a *ton* of in our yard ). When I find a mantis, I’ll take it around the yard and feed it the widows. They have an almost endless appetite and take care of them quickly and without chemicals. After they’ve been fed, I’ll drop them back off where I found them so they can resume their normal activities. They frequently hang out after feeding and will even explore you and find a perch on your body to just hang out. It’s also very interesting to have them eat in your hand.

    1. Praying mantises are surprisingly mellow for insects and will happily let a kid put them in a shoebox and watch them eat a grasshopper, or sit and groom themselves under a hand lens, or walk all over a hand or arm of a giant predator — such as the kid with the shoebox — without flying away. I used to be fascinated with such a big bug — the size of my entire hand! — and used to look for them in our garden every summer until I was nine years old and we moved to the midwest. As I grew older I never saw those nice big green mantises any more and figured there weren’t any in the area until one day I found something that looked exactly like a mantis, but much tinier. It sat there on my thumb, grooming itself, and I hate to tell you how long it took me to figure out why the mantis was so small — it was the same as the ones I’d played with as a kid but my hand, of course, was MUCH BIGGER.

  23. There was one of these in our barn all summer. I’d kill a fly and toss it to him every once in awhile. Then one day I found him outside in the cold mud. I thought he was dead, but I saw a leg move a little. I put him back in the barn and the next day he was standing up so I took him in the house to warm up. Darn cat found him and killed him. My fault I guess for letting him eat grasshoppers.

  24. Oh yeah, capsteve. The brown ones and the green ones are the same. They’re sort of like chameleons, they can change color according to what they’re sitting on.

  25. I had the house invaded by Mantis one summer night in the south of France. They were everywhere. Amazing! Kept some in my basil pots and learned a lot just by watching them. A couple decided to stay indoors eating flies and spent all summer with us. One of them went a little chubby and left me with an egg sac. So when the weather changed I took them – literally one in each hand staring at me with those little eyes all the way down further South – where they could live a little longer before the cold. My brother-in-law said I’ve gone too far :) but I just loved them!

  26. I see alot of Praying mantises in my back yard, but i have never seen a green one, I can seem to find any small baby ones though. Mabye all the big ones ate the small ones… Just a joke.

  27. I was looking up, insects when i saw this and it is soo cool that you found a green one, i surch all day looking for green ones but i can only find brown ones, but they are ok as well. One day when i was playing out the back i saw a huge brown praying mantis on the window, so i went up to it, and i named it ” FRED” . I Played with it for a few hours then i let him fly away and i followed him when he flew away and he landed on the big paper tree out the front.

    From scarlet

    By the way, I’m only 10

  28. My cat found a praying mantis today outside by the bushes. The praying mantis looked like it was trying to spar my cat! It kept turning its head to face my cat(like it was facing its opponent!) It was the craziest thing. It fanned out its wings to look about three times its regular size! So cool! The mantis used its front legs like a robot from Rock ’em sock ’em robots! I couldn’t believe it! I brought my cat inside so it wouldn’t harm the mantis. Then my husband and I went to look at the mantis. The mantis turned its head and looked right at my camera when I took its picture! I decided to take the mantis to safety, but the mantis was fighting me the whole way. First, I tried to pick it up with a leaf, but the mantis wasn’t having that either. It kept sparring the leaf. I finally got the mantis into a paper cup without harming it. It was very difficult, though. Once on the tree, that mantis shimmied up that tree like lightning. It knew it would probably do that because I work at a school and I saw a praying mantis run up a tree really fast one time, out of the reach of little fingers!
    I bet that the praying mantis would take on any animal, no matter how big! It is an awesome insect!

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