All Things Gardening forum: Found this article on Preying mantis, friend or foe?

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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
Oct 14, 2014 12:01 PM CST
https://secure.clematisqueen.com/content/praying-mantis-frie...

had no idea they ate small birds. that is disgusting.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Oct 14, 2014 1:39 PM CST
Hummingbirds are entertaining, cute, amazing fliers and all that. For my part, though, they are not as beneficial as the usual prey of a Preying mantis is harmful. So I'll continue to welcome the mantis and hope he makes more meals of the numerous and very damaging differential grasshoppers. If numbers increase the odds of a grasshopper being a meal rather than a hummingbird, then the adult mantis probably has reached adulthood via many more meals of grasshoppers than of a hummer. Nature can be beautiful, fascinating and just plain odd. It isn't always a choice between good and evil, but often some of both. Brown water snakes are certainly beneficial where their diet consists of invasive cane toads, but they are pretty efficient at nearly eliminating my resident toads which I welcome. I'm sure the drought conditions have caused the surge in their population since I have water and toads. Normally I don't eliminate non-poisonous snakes, but the almost complete disappearance of toads at the house combined with an aggressive personality has made the brown water snake an exception. Probably if it ever starts raining on a regular basis, the snake population will disperse so the impact wouldn't be so great. At least that's what I think. I don't doubt a mantis is capable and opportunistic enough to grab a hummer for a meal, but I'm really skeptical that hummingbirds make up a significant percentage in the diets of Preying mantis.
Donald
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Oct 14, 2014 2:37 PM CST
I just thought it was interesting, I always thought of them as only eating other insects. This article suggests that they eat anything they can catch - small lizards, baby birds, frogs ect.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Oct 14, 2014 4:01 PM CST
It IS interesting. My reaction was to the blog post , not you or your link to it. I already knew that the diet of the mantis family included more than just insects. The blog did choose the format of whether the mantis was a friend or foe and sided soundly on the side of them being a foe. One of my buttons to push is anthropomorphism. Really a mantis is neither friend nor foe. It's an organism doing what comes naturally. In that sense what it does may be something you like or something you don't like, but it's actions aren't directed toward people or even against it food sources except they are food. There is no friend or foe aspect to it. Though differential grasshoppers aren't welcome here and do a lot of damage to things I put some effort into, I wouldn't call them a foe exactly. Not every grasshopper here, and there are many varieties, are as damaging as the differential. I tend to try and encourage things that see grasshoppers as a food source.
Donald
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
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keithp2012
Jan 13, 2015 8:26 PM CST
I have these all over and I've only seen them eat insects, that hummingbird incident is quite rare, mantids can go days without eating and right before they lay egg cases females eat a tremendous amount (I've raised them) so this was probably a very hungry mantis and an unlucky hummingbird. Mantids here eat the yellow jackets which helps us out a lot!
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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Seedfork
Jan 15, 2015 10:28 AM CST
I love them in the garden, I have seen them with bugs and wasps, but never any hummingbirds. I wonder just how big a praying mantis would have to be to do that. I had a fairly large one on the butterfly weed, and it was even struggling for the longest time to control the wasp in its grasp.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jan 15, 2015 11:35 AM CST
I like mantids. Regardless of what their diet are. That is just their nature. Like anything else, there is some good and some bad in them. I would rather have them around than snails, slugs or aphids that's for sure.

I have observed them around in my garden a lot, both the mantids and hummingbirds. Pretty much hummingbirds have all the means of escape they can do to avoid being a meal. Just maybe at times a curious one chooses to hover far longer than necessary so mantids are able to catch them. But to be honest, have never seen a mantid specifically target the hummies. Sometimes the hummies behave very territorial, competing for the little insects that mantids like as well...but most of the time, hummies know to fly away fast once they do sense another predator lurking. The hummies have such an amazing ability to fly forward and backward so fast, that is an advantage they have to elude predators.

For the most part, mantids go about their life in a more solitary manner, quietly waiting for its meal. Pretty much there are more easier prey for the mantids. Not saying it is nice for any mantid to make a meal of a lovely hummingbird, but such is nature..survival of the fittest.

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