Before anything else, what exactly is a praying mantis? Like many insects, a praying mantis has two antennae, two wings, and six legs. However, there are some features that make it distinct from other insects. First, they have the ability to turn their heads, similar to humans. Also, they have strong legs in the front, which will allow them to easily catch their prey. Most of them are brown or green in color, allowing them to easily camouflage with the external environment.
Praying Mantis’ Habitat
You can find praying mantis all around the world, except in Antarctica. They have a diversity of habitats, making them survive in the wild or in the garden. To be specific, you can see them in sandy deserts, bushes, and grasslands. They can also be present, regardless if the ecosystem is wet or dry. However, most of them will prefer to be in tropical climates. Most of them are sit-and-wait predators. Meaning, they can be steady in a single place and they will wait until a prey comes close.
Identifying Praying Mantis’ Damage
Praying mantis is a carnivore, which means that its diet will consist mostly of other insects. It will eat flies, crickets, moths, and grasshoppers, among other pests that can wreak havoc in the garden. Fortunately, they will not eat plants. This also means that they will not cause any direct impact in the garden. There is no specific host plant for a praying mantis.
Results of Infestation
Having a high population of praying mantis in the garden is not a significant problem. Yes, they can be a nuisance. They can be annoying, but the good news is that they will not harm humans and your plants. They do not sting or bite. They will also not directly feed on your plants, and hence, will not lead to cosmetic damages.
How to Get Rid of Praying Mantis
Natural and Organic Solutions
Here are some of the best alternatives for the prevention and control of praying mantis in the garden or at home:
- One of the best ways to control them is through hand-picking. A lot may have hesitations in doing so, thinking that these insects are quick movers and will bite. In reality, they are clumsy fliers, making it easy to get hold of them. To add, they will not also bite you. Keep the mantis in a container that is made from durable material, making sure that the praying mantis will not be able to pierce through it. You can choose to kill the praying mantis. For a more humane solution, on the other hand, it is better to release the praying mantis in the wild and far away from your home.
- If you do not want to manually pick praying mantis, you can use some help from common predators. Frogs are amongst their most common natural enemies, especially the larger ones. If the mantis is small, scorpions, snakes, and lizards will also eat them.
- You can also eliminate them through freezing, although this works only for the eggs. If you feel too guilty to smash the eggs manually, putting them in the freezer is a great solution. This will mimic the winter temperature and will kill the eggs before they hatch. Throw the eggs afterward.
There are no chemicals that are effective in the treatment of praying mantis. In itself, praying mantis is already a natural pesticide since it is one of the most common in natural pest control with the use of biological methods. Avoid using chemicals that are labeled for other insects. They are not only ineffective, but their toxicity can also be a problem.