What Do Praying Mantis Eat? A Detailed Guide

Praying mantises are intriguing creatures with unique appearances and predatory behavior. They are found all over the world in various shapes and sizes, and understanding what praying mantises eat is crucial for their care and survival.

In this article, we will explore “What do praying mantis eat?” and cover a variety of topics related to their diet. We’ll delve into the bugs that praying mantises eat, the diet of baby praying mantises, and whether they can consume other animals such as snakes or rodents.

So, whether you’re a mantis owner or simply curious about these fascinating insects and want to learn more, keep reading!

What Do Praying Mantis Eat?

What Do Praying Mantis Eat?

Praying mantises are carnivorous insects, and their diet primarily consists of live prey. They are known for their predatory nature and unique ability to catch and consume other insects.

These insects have powerful forelegs that they use to grab and hold their prey while they devour it.

The general diet of praying mantises includes a variety of bugs such as crickets, grasshoppers, moths, and flies.

They also eat other insects such as beetles, caterpillars, and even other praying mantises. In general, praying mantises tend to feed on insects that are smaller than they are, although larger species may consume larger prey.

Baby praying mantises have a similar diet to adult mantises, but they typically consume smaller prey. They also tend to eat more frequently than adults since they need more energy to support their growth.

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While praying mantises are primarily carnivorous, there have been some reports of them consuming plant material. However, this is not a common occurrence, and they are not known for eating leaves or fruits.

How Often Does a Praying Mantis Eat

The frequency at which a praying mantis eats can vary based on factors such as species, age, and size. Generally, adult mantises feed less frequently than juveniles, as they require less food to sustain themselves.

Adult mantises may eat every few days or up to once a week, while baby mantises will typically feed more frequently, sometimes several times a day. The size and type of prey can also impact the frequency at which a mantis eats.

Keep in mind that overfeeding can be harmful to a pet praying mantis, as it can lead to obesity and other health issues. 

Additionally, if a mantis is not hungry or does not have access to prey, it may go several days without eating.
Related Article – Do Praying Mantis Eat Ants? Discover The Truth

Bugs That Praying Mantis Eat

Praying mantises have a varied diet and are known to consume a wide range of insects and even small vertebrates.

Here is a closer look at some of the prey items that mantises feed on:

What Do Praying Mantis Eat? Bugs That Praying Mantis Eat
  • Aphids
    • Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that are a common food source for mantises.
    • These tiny insects gather in large numbers on plants, making them an easily accessible and abundant meal for mantises.
  • Leafhoppers
    • Leafhoppers are small, jumping insects that feed on plant sap.
    • They are frequently found in gardens and agricultural fields.
    • Mantises have been observed preying on leafhoppers, capitalizing on their abundance in vegetation.
  • Mosquitoes
    • Mosquitoes are a favored prey item for mantises.
    • Mantises are adept at capturing these flying insects mid-air, utilizing their sharp reflexes and precise strikes.
  • Caterpillars
    • Caterpillars, the larvae of butterflies and moths, are an important part of the mantis diet.
    • Mantises actively hunt for caterpillars on plants, relying on their camouflage and stealth to capture these soft-bodied creatures.
What Do Praying Mantis Eat? Bugs That Praying Mantis Eat
  • Beetles
    • Mantises target a variety of beetles for their meals.
    • Beetles come in different shapes, sizes, and habitats, providing mantises with a diverse range of prey options.
  • Grasshoppers
    • Grasshoppers are among the favorite prey of mantises.
    • These large, jumping insects are a substantial food source that meets the energetic needs of mantises.
  • Crickets
    • Crickets are another staple food for mantises.
    • Their frequent presence in grassy areas and their relatively slow movements make them an easy catch for mantises.
  • Moths
    • Mantises have a particular affinity for moths.
    • They often position themselves near light sources at night, waiting for moths to come within striking range.
    • Moths provide a significant meal due to their size and nutrient content.
What Do Praying Mantis Eat?
Bugs That Praying Mantis Eat
  • Flies
    • Flies of various types, including houseflies and fruit flies, form part of the mantis diet.
    • Mantises skillfully snatch flies out of the air, capitalizing on their ability to detect quick movements.
  • Spiders
    • Mantises are opportunistic predators and will consume smaller spiders when the opportunity arises.
    • They rely on their speed and agile movements to overpower and consume these arachnids.
  • Roaches
    • Mantises are known to feed on certain species of roaches.
    • Roaches that are slower-moving or have weaker defensive mechanisms are more vulnerable to mantis predation.
  • Small Birds
    • While it may seem surprising, large mantis species have been observed capturing and consuming small birds.
    • This behavior is rare and typically occurs in instances where the bird is weak or injured and within the mantis’ size range.
Some species of praying mantises may have specific preferences when it comes to their diet. 

For instance, some mantises are known to have a preference for certain types of flies or beetles. 

While ants are not typically part of the praying mantis diet due to their defensive capabilities, there have been reports of mantises consuming ants on occasion.

To learn more about whether praying mantises eat ants, read our article: “Do Praying Mantis Eat Ants? Discover The Truth.

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What Do Praying Mantis Eat | Answering Specific Questions

We have received numerous inquiries from our readers regarding specific questions about the diet of praying mantises.

So In this section, we will address some common queries and provide accurate answers.

Do Praying Mantis Eat Snakes?

Do Praying Mantis Eat Snakes?

Although it may seem unlikely, some species of praying mantises are known to eat snakes.

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This behavior is rare and typically occurs in instances where the snake is small in size and within the mantis’ ability to overpower and consume.

Do Praying mantis Eat Rodents?

It is uncommon for mantises to prey on rodents. Praying mantises are generally smaller in size compared to rodents, and their hunting strategies and preferred habitats do not align with those of rodents.

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However, it is worth noting that mantises are capable of capturing and consuming larger prey, such as lizards, frogs, or mice, under specific circumstances.

Do Praying Mantis Eat Spider Mites?

Praying mantises do not typically prey on spider mites. Spider mites are tiny arachnids that are often found on plants.

While mantises primarily feed on insects, they may not specifically target or consume spider mites as part of their regular diet.

Do Praying Mantis Eat Wasps and Bees?

Do Praying Mantis Eat Wasps and Bees?

Yes, praying mantises do eat wasps and bees. Although they do not actively hunt these stinging insects, mantises are opportunistic predators and will consume them if they get the chance.

However, wasps and bees have defense mechanisms that make them harder prey for mantises to catch.

Do Praying Mantis Eat Butterflies?

Do Praying Mantis Eat Butterflies?

Praying mantises can eat butterflies, but they are not their preferred food. While mantises are skilled hunters capable of capturing butterflies mid-flight, butterflies are not a primary food source for mantises.

They are more likely to target other insects that provide a higher nutritional value.

Do Praying Mantis Eat Worms?

Do Praying Mantis eat worms?

Yes, praying mantises can eat worms. While worms may not be their primary food source, mantises are opportunistic feeders and will consume worms if they come across them.

Worms can provide a source of nutrition for mantises, especially when other prey options are limited.

Do Praying Mantis Eat Ladybugs?

Praying mantises do eat ladybugs. Ladybugs are part of the mantis diet, although some species of ladybugs release toxins that make them unappealing to mantises. This can lead to potential avoidance.

Do Praying Mantis Eat Ticks?

Praying mantises do not usually eat ticks. Ticks are usually found on larger animals and in different habitats than mantises, so they are not a normal part of their diet.

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What Does a Baby Praying Mantis Eat?

Baby praying mantises have a specific dietary requirement to support their growth and development. They primarily eat small insects that are appropriate for their size and ability. As they mature, they will start eating larger prey.

Here are some of the most common foods that baby praying mantises eat.

What Does a Baby Praying Mantis Eat?
  • Fruit Flies
    • Fruit flies are tiny insects that are readily available and are often used as a primary food source for baby mantises.
    • These small flies provide a suitable size for the young mantises to handle and consume.
  • Aphids
    • Aphids, which are small sap-sucking insects, are another common food for baby mantises.
    • These soft-bodied pests can be found on various plants and provide a nutritious meal for the growing mantises.
  • Small Bugs
    • Baby mantises will also feed on other small bugs that are appropriate for their size. These can include gnats, small beetles, and tiny flying insects.
    • These insects offer a diverse range of nutrients for developing mantises.
Baby praying mantises need to consume smaller prey compared to adults. 

Starting them off with tiny insects such as fruit flies and aphids is recommended to ensure they can effectively capture and consume their food. 

As baby mantises continue to grow, they will gradually move on to larger prey items.
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Can I Feed a Wild Praying Mantis?

What Do Praying Mantis Eat? Can I Feed a Wild Praying Mantis?

Feeding a wild praying mantis is generally not recommended or necessary. Wild mantises are highly capable hunters and are equipped to find their own food sources in their natural environment.

They have adapted to survive by capturing and consuming prey that is readily available to them.

Attempting to feed a wild praying mantis may disrupt its natural feeding behavior and could potentially harm the mantis or the ecosystem it belongs to.

It is best to allow wild mantises to rely on their instinctual hunting abilities to find their own food and maintain their natural balance in the environment.

However, if you come across a sick or injured mantis in the wild, providing temporary assistance may be appropriate.

In such cases, it is advisable to consult with local wildlife experts, insect enthusiasts, or conservation organizations for guidance on how to properly care for the mantis and provide appropriate food if necessary.

In general, it is essential to respect and observe wild mantises from a distance, allowing them to carry out their natural behaviors and fulfill their ecological role as skilled predators.
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How Long Can a Praying Mantis Go Without Eating?

Praying mantises have a remarkable ability to withstand periods of time without food. They can survive for up to 2 weeks without consuming any food.

However, it is important to note that this is the maximum duration, and it is not ideal for their overall well-being.

While mantises can temporarily tolerate a lack of food, extended periods without nourishment can have adverse effects on their health.

Without a regular source of food, mantises may become weakened, less active, and more susceptible to diseases or infections. Additionally, prolonged hunger can hinder their growth and development.

To ensure the optimal health and longevity of a praying mantis, it is recommended to provide them with a regular supply of suitable live prey. This helps fulfill their nutritional requirements and supports their natural hunting behavior.

Offering a varied diet of appropriate-sized insects promotes their overall well-being and ensures they have the energy to carry out their daily activities.

If a praying mantis is unable to eat for a short period, it's important to resume feeding them as soon as possible to keep them healthy. 

Delays in feeding can negatively impact their health and wellbeing.

Final Thoughts

The diet of a praying mantis can vary depending on its size, habitat, and availability of prey. These insects are opportunistic predators and will eat suitable insects they find in their environment.

While they typically feed on insects such as flies, moths, crickets, and grasshoppers, they have also been known to consume other prey items like wasps, bees, and even small snakes.

Baby praying mantises have a specific dietary requirement that consists of small insects. It’s important to provide them with appropriately sized prey and to feed them regularly to support their growth and development.

We hope this article has provided you with valuable information about what praying mantises eat.


What is a praying mantis favorite food?

A praying mantis’s favorite food is typically live insects, such as crickets, grasshoppers, and moths. They have a strong preference for moving prey.

What is the biggest thing a praying mantis can eat?

Praying mantises can capture and consume relatively large prey compared to their own size. Some species have been known to eat insects larger than themselves, such as small birds, lizards, frogs, or mice.

Can I feed my praying mantis flies?

Yes, you can feed your praying mantis flies. Flies make a suitable food source for mantises, and they can be readily available and easy to obtain for feeding purposes.

Do praying mantis eat brown recluses?

Praying mantises are not known to specifically target or prey upon brown recluse spiders. Their diet primarily consists of other insects and invertebrates.

Do praying mantis eat mice?

While it is rare, some species of praying mantises have been observed consuming small vertebrates like mice. However, it is not a common occurrence.

Will praying mantis eat dead bugs?

Praying mantises prefer to feed on live insects rather than dead ones. They are more responsive to moving prey and may not readily consume dead insects.

Do praying mantis eat leaves?

Praying mantises are carnivorous creatures and primarily feed on live insects and other small invertebrates. They do not typically eat leaves or plant matter as a part of their natural diet.

Can praying mantis eat fruit?

Praying mantises are not adapted to eat fruit as it is not a part of their natural diet. They are carnivorous and rely on live insects and invertebrates for their nutritional needs.

Resources – (for further reading)

Iowa State University – Praying Mantis | Horticulture and Home Pest News

Oregon State University – Praying Mantis – OSU Extension Catalog

UW-Madison – Praying Mantids – Wisconsin Horticulture

I'm Ernest M Noah, the founder of BugsTips.com. I have years of experience as an exterminator in Texas and Idaho, and I'm passionate about educating people on how to deal with pest problems effectively and safely.