If you're not a gardener the name Praying Mantids or sometimes called Praying Mantes may sound like some awful creature right out of a
horror movie. But in the real world it is one of a vegetable gardener's best friends.
Mature adults usually live from spring to fall
Depending on the species they can grow between 2 to 4 inches in size thereby qualifying as one of the largest insects in the garden.
Of all the beneficial garden insects or for that matter any garden insect, praying mantids are the deadliest in catching prey. Adapted by nature to be a lean "killing machine," few if any insects that wander too close will escape its grasp.
With a head that can turn almost 360 degrees combined with huge eyes, give them a real advantage in spotting its next dinner.
Both forelegs fold back like a pocket knife and have serrated, spiny edges that end with sharp hooks. Once a prey is spotted and is within reach, the forelegs move lightning fast impaling the unfortunate victim. And when I say lightning fast, they can actually snatch a passing fly, mosquito or moth from the air. The ability to do this comes in handy because it is the only predator that feeds at night especially on any moth or mosquito that venture within its grasp.
Nature also equipped this beneficial garden insect with patience as it will sit and wait or very slowly stalk its prey, sometimes swaying back and forth to mimic plants moving in the breeze. And because of its color from green to brown it blends in with plant foliage and is unseen by its next victim until it's too late.
Praying mantes are not particular
what they eat and while they consume garden pests such as moths, flies,
mosquitoes, crickets, grasshopper's, leafhoppers, grubs, beetles and
caterpillars, they also devour other beneficial garden insects as well.
And if on the rare occasion no other insect is readily available they
will eat each other.
As adept as they are at killing, they do not bite humans, nor spread disease.
Overall the impact of praying mantids on vegetable garden pests remains to be seen due to its indiscriminate eating behavior which include beneficial garden insects.
To read more about beneficial garden insects in your garden, as well as the bad guys, you can find more information from my article garden pests.
If you would like to read more information on this friend to your vegetable garden, go to Wikipedia.org
Until next time,
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