Can a Praying Mantis Kill a Hummingbird?

Praying mantises are amazing creatures. They are predatory bug-like insects closely related to crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, and grasshoppers. They will catch any prey they can. They will lie motionless, allowing certain prey to cross into the range of their reach. They will grab prey with their forearms. These are often folded so that it looks like they’re praying. Their legs are equipped to hold the prey in their hands and they can use their sharp jaws to eat it. They can hide in places and even sit on bushes, flowers, or trees to strike when it is ready.

Florida is home to eleven species of mantis. Most mantises are between 1-4 inches long and feed on many different insects. Many of these insects are pests to our gardens. The mantis therefore serves a beneficial purpose in our gardens. But the inchers, the larger members of this group, will likely take prey that is twice as big as them. There are reports of mantis eating small amphibians, lizards, and amphibians. But what about a Hummingbird?

Evidently, it’s true… but very rare.

First, the mantis needs to be quite big – one the four inchers. And second, it should also have to be very fast – hummingbirds will not fool you. On rare occasions they have managed to grab the mantis. The mantis likely sat on the feeder due to the fact that it attracts other insects. Hummingbirds would make a good grab. It is also evident that it does not consume the entire bird. The mantis can only get what it needs from the internal structures.

Can a Praying Mantis Kill a Hummingbird?

First, it is very unlikely that this will happen even if the mantis has been feeding on the hummingbirds feeder. However, the feeder can be moved far away from trees or shrubs that mantis love. If you do find one, grab a stick and move them to another tree or shrub. They can be more beneficial than destructive.

Praying mantises go on a lot exploring and may end up perched at hummingbird feeders. Mantises are predators. They predominantly prey smaller insects and might catch bees or other insects that are attracted towards the feeders. Large mantises would catch and kill hummingbirds.

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“I thought it was bizarre that the hummingbird kept hovering above this flower and never landed. The praying mantis, hidden underneath the bloom, was then discovered. I quickly (and safely) moved the praying mantis into another location so that the hummingbirds can land on it without fear,” Michele Carter, Newport North Carolina.

A European mantis (Mantis religiosa) eating a black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) in Millwood, Colorado. TOM VAUGHAN

Although we often think of hummingbirds only as sweet, innocent little birds, they are actually fierce and bold competitors. They won’t relax a bit while protecting their territories from other Hummingbirds. They have to watch out for prey animals such as American Kestrels in North America and South American Tarantulas. According to West Chester, Pennsylvania resident, praying mantises also have the ability to capture and kill Hummingbirds. BWD

While I was at work in the yard, my son urgently called me. “Dad,” said my son, “Dad,” a praying-mantis caught a Hummingbird!

I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, knowing that my son doesn’t like to make things up, it was no surprise that I decided to go and see for myself. When I arrived, it was too late. My scientifically-minded son had already taken pictures and studied the scene.

As you can see, this hungry mantis took a hummingbird and killed it. The spiny left side of the mantis was used by the hummingbird to be impaled through its chest. His right leg was left free.

The mantis probably ran the hummer though and dangled its full body on its foreleg while he ate the flesh. After eating, the mantis gave a few quick jerks to its foreleg and then freed it.

This was a terrible experience for the hummer. But we are amazed at just how fast, precise, & powerful the mantis must be in order to accomplish this feat!

Why is there an ant-like praying mantis near my hummingbird bird feeder?

Praying mantises are drawn to areas where flying insect abound. Mantises are attracted to sugary food, such as bees or wasps.

How often do Praying Mantis eat Hummingbirds Every Day?

It isn’t very common for a praying mantis to catch and eat one of these hummingbirds. But it is possible. To protect your garden, you must be vigilant.

How to Keep Praying Mantis Away from Hummingbird Feeders?

Predators, such as praying mantises or frogs, love to hide on trees and shrubs near hummingbird feeders. They might also be found on the feeders hoping to find prey. You can take some precautions, however. Here are some precautions you can take to keep mantises out of your feeders.

  1. Keep your feeders away from low-hanging branches and trees by placing them out in the open.
  2. You can prevent mantises from hiding in shrubbery, which will keep them out of reach. It allows the hummingbirds clear vision of your feeders and any potential dangers.
  3. Protect your bird feeder by covering it with a thick bird feeder cover, or a special dome. This will deter mantises, while still allowing ample access for the little guys.
  4. Avoid attracting bees, wasps or other flying insects to your feeders. This will prevent them from attracted to your feeders. You can purchase beeguards to repel bees or other flying insects. If you have yellow feeders, remove them or paint them red to repel wasps. These insects love the color yellow.
  5. Keep your feeders clean to remove excess sugar which could attract other insects.
    Mantises should not be released into your garden for pest control. Instead, let hummingbirds, and other small birds, help control any excess insects.
  6. Use a stick if you see a praying mantis on your feeder. Place it in a different place in the garden. These insects are very useful around your vegetable gardens.

What Praying Mantis species Preys On Hummingbirds the Most

Praying mantises have the patience of all great assassins. Many species wait patiently for the right edible creature to come along. They then charge, holding prey in a deadly grip with their spiked legs. Mantises are mostly able to eat insects but they also can hunt other insects. A new scientific review has shown that mantises target birds on every continent but Antarctica.

The paper, published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, contains 147 instances of confirmed mantis-bird predation from 13 countries on six continents. In total, twelve different types of mantises are known to have eaten 24 species of birds, mainly hummingbirds.

Martin Nyffeler is a University of Basel-based zoologist who wrote the paper’s first author. He said: “The fact, that eating of birds eaten by praying mantises so widespread, both taxonomically as well, is a fantastic discovery.”

It’s important to understand the cruelty of these mantises. William Brown, an independent biologist at the State University of New York Fredonia, states that they often grab birds by head to “pierce their skull to feed upon brain tissue.” Although the head-first approach seems to be a standard tact, further observations will be needed in order to confirm.

Dietrich Mebs a retired University of Frankfurt University forensic ecologist explains that mantises’ strength lies in their ability to shock the birds and not lose control once they latch on. He said that they simply hold on to their prey, and then they eat them as long as they are alive. Slowly and slowly until nothing is left. It’s quite impressive.

The Chinese Mantis (Tenodera siensis), a native of China that has become a bird killer, is most effective. In the Northeastern United States there are 25 reported instances of these creatures eating birds. The most frequent victims are Ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colobris).

Praying mantises were also observed eating frogs. Mebs noted that Chinese mantises could eat frogs (and newts), as well venomous animals that would kill a person. Mantises can still ingest the toxins and excrete them without being absorbed.

Praying mantises have the ability to kill hummingbirds as well as eat them. You should be alert and regularly check your feeders for mantises.

Hummingbird feeders should be placed in open areas away from trees and shrubs. This makes it easier for the mantises and gives them a better view of the feeder.

A large cover over your feeder, as well as bee guards, will keep other flying insects away from your feeders. The feeders will be less attractive to praying mentises.

Can a Praying Mantis Kill a Hummingbird? | Footage

References & Further Reading

Audubon News. Praying Mantis vs. Hummingbird.

Borror, D.J., R.E. White. 1970. Insects of America North of Mexico. Easton Press. Norwalk CT. pp. 404.

Harrison, L. 2017. The Predatory Praying Mantis. Gardening in the Panhandle.

Montanari, S. 2017. Praying Mantis Devours Hummingbird in Shocking Photo. National Geographic.


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