Although they may be a bit scary looking at first, the praying mantis is actually one of the "good guys" in the insect world. At least they are from the standpoint of home gardeners. This is because, although they are not discriminate eaters, they do tend to eat many of the insects that we consider pests in the garden.

These insects can get quite large (up to 5 inches) in length and they are green to straw colored so they often blend into their surroundings. They do not go through metamorphosis so the immature mantis just look like miniature versions of the adults...only smaller, of course.

This is one of those species were the males are at a disadvantage. After mating, the female usually eats the male. Each female produces about 100 or so eggs which they attach to plants in the garden. The ones that survive the winter will hatch the following May or early June and begin to eat other insects.

You can buy praying mantis eggs commercially. Follow the instructions you receive and you too can have these insect eating machines working for you. REMEMBER that they will also be killed if you go around spraying general purpose insecticides for garden pests.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

Types of Insects

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