Praying Mantis of Death!

Praying mantises are cool. If you don’t have them around already, consider buying an egg case – hundreds of ghostly miniature mantises hatch out and, if not dispersed soon enough, voraciously eat each other. The surviving siblings grow to remarkable size over the course of the summer. I got a mantis case for my mom last spring, and she loved it (you can see that I inherited some of my weirdness).

We handle the mantises in our yard, and let them walk on us, all the time. That is, until I came across this gratuitous scene of violence via Bird Watcher’s Digest:

mantis_hummingbird.jpg mantis_hummer2.jpg

Photos by Richard Walkup, PA
Source: Bird Watcher’s Digest

Apparently when mantises get large enough, they can skewer a hummingbird right out of the air! Ack! I am NOT letting a mantis walk on my face ever again.

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12 Responses to Praying Mantis of Death!

  1. Jon Eccles says:

    I’m sure you’d be just fine, as long it didn’t decide your nose looked like a humming bird.

  2. cicada says:

    Hummingbird? No. Fat little grub? Maybe. . . ;)

  3. Pierre Carl├Ęs says:

    Are you sure the photo is genuine ? I find it hard to believe that a praying mantis would have the strength in its forelegs to really hurt such a powerful bird as a hummingbird. I am in doubt, I must say. What do entomologists say ? And more important: where the hell can one get a mantis case ?

  4. cicada says:

    Pierre, any pest control business that has ladybugs, etc. should also have mantid egg cases. I bought mine at a local farmer’s market. Usually they sell them in spring. I don’t know what mantids are native to Europe so you might want to look for a local supplier there in France.

    As for the pictures, they’ve been up there a while, it’s a reliable website, and no one has called it a hoax yet. It is pretty incredible but large tropical mantises can definitely kill birds and frogs, so this might be a case of a domestic mantis getting too big for its britches. I doubt it happens often, though – and it is rather sad to lose a hummingbird to feed an insect with such a short life cycle.

  5. D says:

    That is one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

  6. carla says:

    I myself would never had believed it, but yesterday when I got home..there was a dead hummingbird hanging from the feeder with a praying ;mantis eating it. There was no way for the humminbird to die other than the praying mantis to kill it …it was awful….so I got rid of the praying mantis and I am watching the bird feeder for more, because they will go also……

  7. trifi says:

    i believe it i mean the praying mantis can grow to a size of 6 inches. A hummingbird can be as small as 2.5 inches. I WANT TO BUY A PRAYING MANTIS!!! to watch it kill something.

  8. mantis owner says:

    I ‘ve seen a mantis try to go up against a cat. I’ve had mantis several years in a row. They will try to get any food they can. You can see the eye color, some have blue or green. They are totally cool.

  9. aoife says:

    I found an eggsac a while ago… and didnt know what it was so i kept it in a bottle with small holes at the top. I woke up today and there a thousands of like praying mantises in there…what should i do…just release them?

  10. cicada says:

    aoife, hope you already got your answer, but yes – release them! They’ll eat tiny insects until they’re big enough to eat larger ones, and they are really good at hiding. If you keep them in the jar they’ll dry out, and they’ll start eating each other.

  11. jimmy G says:

    Amazing. Every year for 7 years, around Sept. in Ny, I find a manta outside my front door. I found one again tonight. So decided to look them up. I was told they bite, so i wont hold it. I did one year though. Truly an interesting creature. I don’t breed them Why would they return in the same spot every year? If they can eat a bird..they must have one heck of a bite! I’m assuming it dies in the fall. Why would I only see one though? Is it the female? Can someone answer all this?

  12. Adam Wright says:

    that killed a brid cool

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