Beware the praying mantis!!

khakitagSeptember 9, 2007

This morning as I was doing my daily plant check, I found a praying mantis in the process of eating a monarch in my butterfly bush. He was expertly disguised, as I looked at him for quite a while before I figured out what it was. I was so sad, then mad, then didn't know what to to. I have heard that praying mantids eat lots of bugs, so they're pretty beneficial. But I decided since he was making a direct impact on my butterfly population, he couldn't stick around. Then when I looked closer, I found another one in the same bush. I guess I'll have to keep my eyes open for them in the future. I got some great photos (though they're pretty morbid I guess), but I don't know how to post them.

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tdogmom(9)

Yep, I keep them AWAY from the butterfly garden. The good thing is that they don't move very fast...

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 6:03PM
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janetg57(z9 TX)

I found a praying mantis poised to strike on a plant that some GF's were nectaring at and it took me and all 3 grand daughters 20 minutes to catch and relocate him to another part of the yard. I can't say that he was moving all that fast, but they can sure hide good.

Janet

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 8:50PM
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lynn_ark

I didn't know how to post a photo either, but went to the photo gallary link near the top of the page. It was pretty easy, like other sites. There is a button named submit your photo, and then you put it in a catagory, describe it, and brouse for it on your computer, and then upload it. Also you may need to resize your photo before submitting it. Then you have to fill in the url below with the address where your photo is, and name the link. I don't know if it matters, or if you have to name it garden web. My only problem was the photo didn't show up until I refreshed the page. Then in your post there will be a link for readers to click on and see your photo. I bet there are clearer instructions somewhere, but I didn't find them. I hope this helps though.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 9:25PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Sherry - do you use the ole grab em and squish method? I've heard they can bite, but that may be an old wives tale. Not sure. I found out that what I have eating my cats is not a stink bug, but is in the stink bug group, but a spined soldier bug. They are the ones that eat caterpillars, not the stink bug.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spined Soldier Bug

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 9:09AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I find them in my garden 'lying in wait' pretty often - I just cut off the branch they're on, and move them to the woods, where they can eat bugs, hopefully, stink bugs! :)
MissSherry

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 9:37AM
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khakitag

I am ready to declare all out war with them. This afternoon, I caught another one with a big beautiful female tiger in his claws, already half eaten. I hit him, but don't know where he went. I'm sorry, but I'm so angry, I would rather just dispose of them, than patiently relocate them and wait for them to come back. I've never seen them anywhere else in my garden but my butterfly bush, I guess because it attracts so many butterflies. I even saw a few wings on the ground under the bush, remnants of his previous meals, I guess. A gulf frit, and another tiger. I'm mad now...!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 5:08PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

You must have plenty of them in your garden - I think I'd do just what you're doing!
MissSherry

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 5:37PM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

I have them too. I quite like them and think they're cool little characters.


Could you ctach them and relocate? They are benifical bugs.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 6:39PM
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elaineoz

I leave them in my garden......I figure they eat many "bad" bugs too.... But, I would hate to see them eating a butterfly!

Elaine

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 9:53PM
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khakitag

I don't mind the other bugs. Unless they eat wasps, stink bugs and mosquitoes, they aren't that beneficial to me. I would rather suffer the other bugs, and see my beautiful butterflies that I've worked so hard to attract.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 11:25PM
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webkat5(Z6a MO)

Yea...found this one munching on a Silver Spotted Skipper...

Sad, but it is the cycle of life, I guess...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 11:31PM
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tdogmom(9)

I keep them out in the Roses in the front yard where the butterflies do NOT hang out. :)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 1:28AM
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wolp8

I was just going to post the question here to see what other people would do if they had praying mantis in their yards. I have one sitting in my bird of paradise bush and I have seen it eating my pipevine swallowtails (2 that I've seen so far). I have been raising almost 400 pipevine swallowtails from last years caterpillars and just hate to see this. On the other hand I realize that the praying mantis has to eat too and I am sure it also eats plenty of "bad" bugs.
But today I also discovered a praying mantis in my parsley (where the black swallowtails are laying their eggs) and 2 more on a fence (no butterfly flowers there at all). I also found 2 egg sacks hanging on a fence, which means plenty more praying mantisses in the future.
While I do like them and think they are a very neat insect I am getting worried about my butterflies. I also came about a website with a picture of a praying mantis eating a HUMMINGBIRD!!! Here's the link to it, in case you have not seen it before:

http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/site/backyardbirds/hummingbirds/mantis-hummer. aspx?sc=birdwireJul2005

I guess that it is probably a freaky once-in-a-lifetime thing and pretty uncommon, but still....
I have lots of hummingbirds in the yard too, and my goldfinches are not much bigger then the hummers!

I am very interested in opinions of fellow butterfly raisers. Move the mantisses and their eggs far, far away (like somewhere in the wilderness) or let nature run its course and be happy that almost 400 caterpillars turned into butterflies?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 2:10AM
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webkat5(Z6a MO)

My mantis are quite small...no chance they could haul in a Hummer...that is quite disturbing, though...

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 10:28AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It's (as been said before) a dilemma! It seems to me that there are many different options, as you can tell from all of the different postings in this thread.

Some who 'raise' butterflies (and moths) collect the eggs and/or caterpillars and/or chrysalises from their natural setting and place them in a safe location where they are provided with a food source, protection, etc. and hope to release healthy adults. This can be extremely rewarding, but a lot can go wrong so it's best to do some homework before stepping into this role. Several people who spend time in this forum can help you with that endeavor, if you decide to try it. However, if I were attempting to raise caterpillars in the garden, I guess I would do all I could, within reason, to protect them.

Others do all they can to provide a healthy garden environment for these insects, but understand that there are a large number of natural predators and parasites that earn their living by feeding on the larvae or adults. These would be birds, wasps of various kinds, mantids, spiders, soldier bugs, wheel bugs, etc.

Some of us try to avoid planting host plants for caterpillars (because of all of the predators) but focus on nectar plants. The visiting adults are less likely to become lunch for something than the caterpillars! I really appreciate praying mantids and don't kill them, but have removed them from my gardens, crape myrtles and yes, my hummingbird feeders. So far, they seem to be quite happy in my neighbor's vegetable garden where LOTS of critters await them.

I planted several 'Knock-Out' shrub roses this spring and have found, to my surprise, that butterflies and moths flock around them! Once I discovered that, I began keeping my eyes open for mantids on a daily basis! None, so far!

The adults are attracted to all of the fluttering activity in your butterfly bush, so you'll need to really be observant in order to provide some protection for the butterflies.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 1:53PM
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khakitag

I suppose if I had a vegetable garden, or any other kind of garden, I would more than welcome them. But their only purpose in my butterfly bush is to kill butterflies, which I have labored long and hard to attract. I found another one hiding in there today. Their abdomens are the exact shape of the leaves, and near impossible to see.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 3:02PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Be sure to search the BB (and elsewhere) for any egg masses that they may have deposited! Good luck, maybe you'll be able to find one or two of the voracious things every day.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 3:16PM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

If they touched my hummers I'd bring out the shotgun.

Khakitag, maybe a local kid could catch the perpetrators, bring it to school for show & tell. Then ask him/her to let it go in a field.

Edna

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 7:53PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I hope this makes y'all feel better. This morning my cat was going crazy over something under the chair. I found a small praying mantis under there. I removed it and brought it outside. Unfortunately I didn't put it out front where the cats can't get to.

My husband reported that later in the day, he saw our cat catching and eating the mantis right where I put it.

One for the butterflies!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 9:11PM
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october17(5chgo)

Love butterflies and hummers - but love the praying mantis too. I'd rather have the mantis around because butterflies and hummers cannot be counted on to eat the japanese beetles. We despise japanese beetles.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 11:49AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

While I do like butterflies, the praying mantis is one of its natural predators, weening out the old, sick, and unwary. It is an unpleasant but necessary part of life. Killing them off is unwise. For that matter are you going to kill off all the frogs and birds in your yard as well? They are also predators afterall.

Funny that you are finding so many though. I don't seem to find them at all in my area anymore.

Hope you're able to employ a peaceful solution such as relocation.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 10:58PM
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khakitag

Yes, I agree. This summer, I'm just going to let nature take it's course. I'll try relocating them if I can. But I'm really enjoying feeding the birds, and I live on a creek, so lots of frogs too. It just bothered me to see a pile of butterfly wings under my butterfly bush...
Shari

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 11:46PM
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melanie_in_allen(8)

Interesting stream of comments. Here is a picture of what I saw today. I didn't like it but just relocated the mantis.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 10:29PM
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Kvothe

I love all the bugs, I hope you don't kill them, praying mantises are really beneficial and one of my favourite bugs after butterflies, dragonflies and fireflies

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 11:07AM
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Kvothe

I love all the bugs, I hope you don't kill them, praying mantises are really beneficial and one of my favourite bugs after butterflies, dragonflies and fireflies

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 11:09AM
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Leafhead

I used to raise them, along c my sister and neighbors, whom I got "hooked". Like butterflying, PMs can be a bit addictive as well. Of course, I kept them indoors away from lizards, birds and of course, my butterflies.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 1:20PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

It would be wonderful if we could relocate the praying mantids to some organic farmer's fields. That would help everyone, because no one wants any kind of bug chewing on our food plants. I don't think even PM could have a measurable effect on pollination rates. I know lots of farmers place ladybugs in their fields to help control aphids, and possibly other bugs. Diversity can help minimize damage to all plants. Maybe a local community garden would be a good spot for relocation. The kid for show-and-tell who could let it go at school or somewhere else more appropriate is also a great idea.

Martha

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 2:19PM
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hawaiiponder34

wow what a big mantis! I saw one in my yard few months ago but I just leave it alone. I didn't know anything about butterfly back then:-)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 4:17PM
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