If praying mantids look as if they’re poised for attack, they are: Let them take care of your pest problems.
Praying mantids are found in the southern and eastern United States and north into Ontario, Canada.
Mantids hunt down and devour both pest insects and beneficial species. They eat virtually any insect they catch, including each other. Nonetheless, praying mantids are an asset to the garden.
Adults are very large, green or brown, streamlined insects, 2 to 3 inches long, with long legs and prominent eyes in a triangular head. The large forelegs bear rows of sharp spines and are held up in readiness to capture prey. Wings are folded flat on top of the abdomen. Nymphs are similar to adults, but smaller and wingless. Eggs are laid in a grayish, frothy case of 50 to 400 eggs glued to stems or twigs.
Getting Them on Your Side
` To protect native praying mantis species, don’t release purchased mantids. ` Avoid using pesticides.
` Provide sites for overwintering eggs by keeping permanent plantings around the garden.