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How to Identify and Get Rid of Praying Mantises

Protect your home or business from praying mantises by learning techniques for identification and control.

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Order Mantodea
Triangular Head
Prayer like posture
Two Bulbous Compound Eyes


What do praying mantises look like?

Praying mantises appear to be “praying” when their front legs are held at rest. These long, narrow insects have a distinctive appearance with large predatory front legs and long, sharp spines that are used for grasping prey. They have a lengthy thorax that functions like a neck, enabling the triangular head with large, compound eyes to swivel almost all the way around. Praying mantis adults generally range from 2 to 5 inches long and are usually brown, green, or yellowish. The color of the adults is related to the environment in the habitat that they choose in their last molt—yellow mantises have finished developing between litter or dry straw, while the bright green ones have remained among fresh grass during their last stage.

Praying Mantis Treatment

How do I get rid of praying mantises?

What Orkin Does

One of the most effective ways to help eliminate praying mantises is to place them in a container and release them elsewhere, instead of killing them. Praying mantises are a great help in controlling other insects. If you’re concerned about handling praying mantises, you may use gloves or forceps to remove them to another location. Another way to help get rid of them is to allow insectivorous birds, such as robins, thrushes, larks, and nightingales to nest nearby and feed on praying mantises.

To learn more about praying mantises and other pests, contact your local Orkin branch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

More Information on Praying Mantises

Do praying mantises fly?

Praying mantises are not strong fliers and are rarely seen in flight. Their long, narrow front legs are used for grasping and holding onto prey.

Praying Mantis Life Cycle

Praying mantises develop through three stages: egg, nymph, and adult, and only have one life cycle per year. Females will lay between a dozen to a few hundred eggs in an egg case called an ootheca. These eggs overwinter in the egg case and hatch in the spring into a very small version of the adult, also called nymphs. In the nymph stage, they begin eating whatever they can catch as soon as they hatch. They go through an incomplete metamorphosis throughout the growing season and eventually develop wings as they reach the adult stage. Nymphs and adults generally do not survive the winter.

Female praying mantises generally are larger than males and have a stouter abdomen. It is often believed that the praying mantis female eats the male’s head during the mating process, but this does not occur during most mating and is not necessary to produce eggs.

What do praying mantises eat?

Praying mantises are ambush predators and feed on virtually anything they can catch. Insects such as flies, beetles, aphids, caterpillars, crickets, moths, and grasshoppers are a portion of their diet. Because praying mantises are ambush predators, they are usually found in plant environments they can blend into so they can wait for prey to come along before giving their location away.

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