Observations in the Garden: Ally or Enemy?

Posted on Sep 18, 2017

In the garden, mantids have a reputation for eating pests.  However, as generalist predators they eat whatever meal wanders by. Like most mantids, garden species are ambush hunters and can often be found hanging around flowers, a rich source of insect prey such as bees, wasps, and butterflies. preyingmantisredwood


The science swings back and forth on whether mantids are truly beneficial insects, eating more pests than allies. But. they are a fascinating member of garden fauna and are loved by children. With their changing colors and rotating heads, they are a popular insect “pet” and can even become accustomed to being handled.

Several garden mantids are introduced species, principally the European mantis, Mantis religiosa, the Mediterranean mantis, Iris oratoria, and Tenodera sinensis, the Chinese mantis. Egg cases purchased at nurseries are typically those of the Chinese mantis.  Practically speaking, it’s best to not introduce exotic species where they do not belong. Established populations of Mediterranean mantises are competing with native mantids in Southern California.