Last updated on February 5th, 2022
The animal kingdom is full of amazement, and as you delve deeper into its unique qualities, you will be surprised by the unique habits and habitats of these creatures.
While talking to a wildlife photographer, I came across an unusual eating habit of many animals. He told me that several creatures specifically hunt and consume praying mantises.
This surprised me because these insects have two features that distinguish them from other insects.
Firstly, they can camouflage themselves quite well, making identifying praying mantises tricky. Secondly, these insects are pretty aggressive, which wouldn’t make them a sought-after appetizer in the animal kingdom.
Animals that eat praying mantis:
- Bearded Dragons
However, the fact these insects can be quite a delicacy for many members of the animal kingdom was quite a surprise. Some of the creatures that eat praying mantises are as follows:
Here are 9 animals that eat praying mantis:
Spiders are known to devour praying mantises, especially if they are young and they can spin delicate webs in which insects get trapped.
Sometimes young praying mantises also get trapped in these webs. Once trapped, the mantis cannot escape, and the spider can come later to devour it.
The tough outer coat of the mantis is no deterrent for the spider as it can consume the entire mantis. Spiders like the giant tarantula can even devour a full-size praying mantis.
Additionally, the intricate webs of these spiders are too big for a mantis, and once caught in the webbing, they are unable to escape.
Moreover, the size of the spider is such that it can consume the entire mantis with ease.
2. Bearded dragons
Bearded dragons are cousins of lizards, and they are excellent hunters. They tend to hunt several insects, and praying mantises are suitable prey for them.
The tough exoskeleton or the spiky legs of the praying mantis often acts as a deterrent to the bearded dragon, but this is in the case of the adult praying mantis.
The young praying mantises are often excellent prey for the bearded dragons. In the wild, you might even see a bearded dragon hunting and bringing down a praying mantis.
Once it has killed the praying mantis, the bearded dragon will consume the entire insect.
Lizards are smaller in size compared to bearded dragons, and hence hunting full-grown praying mantises is tricky for the lizards you usually see near your home.
The younger praying mantises are easy to hunt and can be quickly devoured.
Furthermore, praying mantises have ruthless fighting techniques which can even defeat a lizard.
Hence while hunting a mantis, the lizard has to be careful not to come in the way of its powerful legs, as these legs can even injure a full-grown lizard.
This is especially true of the common house lizards that you usually see lurking around your home and garden.
Chickens can eat a host of insects, and praying mantises are no different. These birds’ sharp claws and beaks are no match for the praying mantis.
A chicken can easily catch and devour a praying mantis. Farmers raising chickens often mention that praying mantises try to ward of chickens by spreading their wings and standing on their forelimbs.
This makes their appearance quite formidable. But chickens, especially the free-range ones, are used to seeing insects of different sizes and are not easily intimidated.
They might appear to be deterred, but soon you will see that the chicken has caught the mantis in its claw, and then it has transferred the insect to its beak.
Chickens can consume praying mantises whole, and you can often see the bug hanging from the beak of a chicken.
Reptiles are natural predators of insects, and snakes are no different. Praying mantises are natural prey for snakes.
Praying mantises lack any chemical deterrent that will give them protection against snakes. Snakes hunt primarily by injecting venom into their prey or twisting themselves around them.
Larger-sized praying mantises are often avoided by snakes as these have extremely spiky legs and tough exoskeleton that might not be suitable for a snake.
But smaller praying mantises, especially the young ones, are suitable prey for snakes.
Snakes are a natural enemy to praying mantises, and despite their ability to camouflage themselves, many snakes can identify these insects.
The short and spiky legs of the more enormous praying mantises are the only deterrent for snakes.
Birds like hawks have excellent eyesight and can spot insects from a significant height. They can quickly identify more giant insects like praying mantises from great heights.
Praying mantises are perfect prey for hawks as these do not pose any threat to the sharp talons and the beak of a hawk. Most insects are rich in protein and minerals.
Birds need an excellent supply of proteins and minerals to build a robust immune system.
Hence, predatory birds often hunt for insects and smaller animals like rats and mice to fulfill this need for protein and minerals. These are smaller meals but ones that are usually found in abundance.
Hawks are often seen carrying praying mantises in their talons to their nests to feed their nestlings.
Insects are suitable food for young birds as they may help them build a robust immune system.
Owls are often known to hunt on praying mantises, especially when they have young ones to feed. Owls are known to hunt both young and adult praying mantises.
Like hawks, the talons and beaks of owls are also no match for the praying mantises. You can sometimes spot a mother owl carrying a praying mantis in its beak towards its nest.
The objective of such an owl would be to feed the insect to its young ones. One of the reasons owls feed insects to nestlings is that bugs are easier for them to digest and are rich in the necessary nutrients they need.
It will help the nestlings build a robust immune system and reduce the chances of falling ill.
Cardinals are drawn towards insects primarily during the mating season. During this period, the birds need to supplement their diet with food rich in minerals and proteins.
This is the reason why the birds are drawn towards insects and bugs. Although praying mantises are not cardinals’ preferred food, you will find the birds sometimes chewing young praying mantises.
This is because the young insect does not have spiky legs or a tough exoskeleton, making it suitable for the small bird.
Moreover, young praying mantises are suitable for nestlings, and cardinals often carry them to their nests.
Scorpions come in several sizes, and depending on the size of the scorpion, it will attack or avoid a praying mantis.
An adult praying mantis can be pretty big, very experienced, flexible, and more significant than a regular-sized scorpion, and hence, a scorpion will avoid such a mantis.
But more significant scorpions are often found attacking and devouring smaller praying mantises. The young praying mantises can be suitable prey for the giant and black scorpions.
But the adult praying mantis with its fully formed spiky legs can prove to be a formidable opponent even to a giant scorpion.
It is only the smaller mantises that scorpions can hunt and devour with ease.
The animals that eat praying mantis are spiders, bearded dragons, lizards, chickens, snakes, hawks, owls, cardinals, and scorpions. Additionally, these animals are opportunistic feeders and will generally eat whatever they can find.