What Do Praying Mantis Eat? – Essential Facts about Mantids Diet

Praying mantises are ferocious animals in the world of insects. They are pure carnivores so much so that they sometimes consume their counterparts. However, most of the mantis’ diet consists of small animals such as grasshoppers, crickets, butterflies, and beetles. Praying mantises can also kill hummingbirds and snakes but these are not the essential part of their menu. Adult mantises are thought to take on small reptiles by using their quick launching strategy. 

What Do Praying Mantis Eat? – Praying Mantis Diet – How Do Praying Mantis Eat?

A female mantis is infamous for attacking her mating partner once the mating is done. During captivity, a praying mantis likes to eat grasshoppers, spiders, beetles, and monarch butterflies. In the wild, mantises are ambush predators in that they are pretty expert in catching live prey by getting as close to the prey as they possibly can. Mantises can also camouflage their bodies but when it’s not possible they will simply stalk their prey like big cats.

Read More: Do Female Praying Mantis Eat their Mates?

Once the mantis reaches adulthood it mostly relies on small animals like mosquitoes, frogs, caterpillars, birds, leafhoppers, and lizards for daily consumption.

what do praying mantis eat
A praying mantis feeds on a cricket

Mantises are thought to be biotrophic for they eat carnivorous arthropods and herbivorous arthropods in equal proportions. Mantids are a bit choosy for they mainly consume only those arthropods that are useful for plants. These animals include butterflies, spiders, wasps, and bees. Once the mantis finishes its meal it usually cleans up its body and leg and sometimes mouth too.

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How Do Praying Mantis Hunt?

Mantids are smart hunters, they have infinite patience to wait for their prey. However, when the prey is within striking distance they will simply snap out their arms to catch it. Mantids are not usually known to miss out on their prey. Mantids have a firm grip because they have claws attached to the very end of their arms. The prey is less likely to escape once the mantis gets hold of it. More so, the raptorial forelegs of a mantis make sure that the prey doesn’t move at all. A few species (Ligariella and Entella) are known to run after their prey. The food they eat can determine their overall lifespan. For instance, a Chinese mantis lives a much longer life when it feeds on pollen as compared to when it doesn’t.

what do praying mantis eat in the garden
A mantis eats gecko alive.

What Do Praying Mantis Eat in Captivity?

Mantids can make good pets provided they are fed regularly and are not raised in groups. It’s advisable to breed one individual at a time. When the mantis is young you can feed it with crickets, bugs, or other small flying insects but as they grow the size of their prey ought to be increased. A captive mantis also enjoys feeding on honeybees, house flies, fruit flies, and wax moths.

Mantids do not drink water like we do. One or two sprays of water would probably be sufficient for daily intake. If however you’re raising a species which lives in the rainforest in the wild then you’ll need to spray more.

Do Praying Mantis Eat Plants?

Unlike other stick insects, praying mantises do not eat plants. Stick insects typically prefer to bramble, white oak, ficus, raspberry, rose, and leather leaf viburnum. It isn’t clear however if mantises eat these plants.

What Do Praying Mantis Eat? – Video


Hurd, L. E., and Eisenberg, R. M. (1990). Arthropod community responses to manipulation of a bitrophic predator guild. Ecology 76, 2107–2114.

Helfer, J. (1963). “How to Know the Grasshoppers, Cockroaches and Their Allies.” Brown, Dubuque, IA.


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