Mantises are well known and loved by all gardeners. These ambush predators are usually green, brown, or gray in color to camouflage from not only their predators but their prey! Mantises are known for their extra bendy forelimbs that give the appearance that they are praying. Large eyes give them their distinct triangular shaped head that can rotate far more than most insects.
Mantises are a good bug to have around! They can eat many of the larger insects than smaller beneficials.
Typically greater in numbers spring through fall, depending on your location.
Worldwide in temperate and tropical areas.
Mantises typically like to hang around areas with plenty of water and food, which many gardens present without even trying.
Create a welcoming garden by having shallow water dishes with rocks to offer drinking areas for not only mantises but all beneficial insects. Providing shelter by growing dense plants or tall grasses nearby are helpful as well. Make sure to keep pesticide use to a minimum if you want to keep these cuties around! A few species are available commercially, the most popular being the Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis). These are generally sold as egg cases but you can often find adults or nymphs for sale as well.
Mantises were long thought to have mystical powers by early civilizations. In fact, their name loosely translates to “prophet”.