Praying Mantis are killing my monarchs Southern CA.)October 17, 2013

Hi, I'm new here. I'm into my second year of Monarch rearing, and had a good year this year. A BIG problem I'm beginning to see is having a healthy in full bloom (even today) butterfly bush near the milkweed in the back yard. I have seen at least one or two monarchs being killed every week by a praying mantis, while she is taking nectar from the blooms on the butterfly bush. All the praying mantis in the neighborhood must know of this backyard with the milkweed and the butterfly bush! A perfect restaurant for the praying mantis--a one stop get all the meals you want set-up. Yesterday I saw a lone wing on the bush and already had dread-went over and this time he was green and FAT and my monarch was all but gone. I KILL THEM WITH no hesitation-it's them or my monarchs.To kill them, I smack them hard towards the ground with my hand was all I had at the time. They are stunned a little, I immediately smashed it, I used a bare foot it was all I had at the time! It was sad, I have to say, to see his face with no body left to speak of. But they PREFER monarchs. I'm wondering if the butterfly bush has to go? Any way to cover the bush with netting, only leaving a few flowers pop through? Would the mantis be able to still get the monarch? Usually they are hiding within the plant. I killed a tan mantis 3 days ago after he ate part of monarch's abdomen and the top wing was severed. I took her in and she fought for days but I lost her. The wound healed but that top wing cannot easily be re-attached. I called M.W. and spoke to (can't think of the name-very nice). He has a u-tube video on how to fix monarch wings. I think she may have bled out or starved, I did offer various nourishment. She was fighter, and hung on for 2 days. :( so sad she didn't make it. I caught her attack very early that time. II check the bush for mantises all day long and show no mercy. Think the butterfly bush has to go?
I don't think butterfly bushes nearby milkweed is a good idea, what do you think? It's a HIGH risk of death for the monarch.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
runmede(7a Virginia)

It's not just the butterfly bush, it is any flowering plant. Those huge green mantis are Chinese mantids. I caught one on my Pineapple Sage (hummer food). The huge ones can catch juvenile hummingbirds. I leave all the native mantids alone. They don't do much harm. The Chinese Mantids even eat the native mantids.

I carry a fanny pack with a large pair of scissors out to the garden. As far as I am concerned, they are exotics and need to go.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tenodera sinensis sinensis - Chinese Mantid

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yikes!! I found one on the side of our building earlier this Fall/ late Summer eyeballing my last Monarch of the season, on Butterfly Bush. I tried to move it, but it flew off into a nearby Maple tree. I haven't seen it since.
I found an oethecum (egg mass) at work, but left it. Should have I destroyed it? I thought they were protected.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

runmede, thanks for the link on the Chinese mantis. it says they can be green or tan, and like shrubs, tall herbs, meadows. Sounds like very tall shrubs, say 10-12 feet, or flowering trees would be safer for the monarchs since the mantises don't go that high.The summer before last I kept finding butterfly wings at the base of the butterfly bush in the front yard, now I know why. I wonder if I should remove the two butterfly bushes?
It's unfortunate that our country allows the importing of non-native insects, don't they realize it'll ruin the native habitat?
Leafhead, I would kill the mantis' egg sac. They aren't protected from what I read the other day. The native mantis might need to be protected soon, but I'm going to kill any I find, exotic or native, Would a grasshopper eat a chrysalis? I saw a huge green grasshopper in a milkweed plant where there had been a chrysalis. He's history too.
Any advice about what to do with the butterfly bushes? Remove then, cover with netting? Many thanks.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 1:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I'm glad this post was brought to my attention. I've actually been wishing to see a mantis in my garden, just as an indication of diversity. But, I certainly don't want an invasive foreign type. Chances are I'll have one soon enough. I won't be so excited if I find an egg sack, though.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 7:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
runmede(7a Virginia)

I do not kill native species. Our Carolina mantid is very small. About 2 inches long. When I find a Chinese mantid on my Pineapple Sage, I know what it is after. Any butterfly or hummingbird that it can grab. The Chinese mantids are huge. About 4 inches or more for the females.

"The Protected Species Myth
A common mantis myth is that mantises, often described as praying mantises, are protected or endangered species and it is illegal to kill them. This myth was probably perpetuated by the relative rarity and impressiveness of mantids when compared with other more apparent garden insects, as well as their reputation as beneficial predators and therefore "good bugs."..."

Here is a link that might be useful: Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 8:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There's very little that I kill in my garden, but I do kill preying mantises.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 2:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

I was hoping for a suggestion about the dilemna of having a butterfly bush in the same yard where monarchs are being released since the mantises are stalking the butterfly bush and ambushing them. I haven't even seen a native praying mantis in years around here, just those huge fat 4 inch tan and green exotics. Maybe the natives are all dead around here?
Back to the butterfly bush, I decided to open up the center of the bush. Do you think that will protect the Monarchs better? I thought so since they have such limited sight, mostly they see by ultraviolet rays--so more light seemed to be to their benefit...?? They would detect a change in the amount of light around them, I have killed several praying mantises last week, and so far this week since trimming out the inside of the bush, no killed Monarchs.

Photo of the trimmed bush,

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 1:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

closer view of the inner bush

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 1:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

last pic of the trimmed bush. This bush I started from a small branch a few years ago. Now I have enough cuttings to start a small nursery! I can't bear to throw them out.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 1:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Very nice bushes. I have no idea if cleaning out the bushes will help the Monarchs spot the Mantis, but it may well make it easier for you to see them.

May I ask where you live? The Buddleias don't last for long in most parts of Florida; they get eaten by the nematodes.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 8:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

Tom, that's a shame about your problem with nematodes. Do they kill the butterfly bush, or just shorten the blooming/growing season for it? I wasn't sure what a nematode was so I read up on it before replying. What a nasty problem it seems that they are for gardeners and the Agriculture Industry also.

I found these tips on controlling nematodes at

Quoting from the link-
2. One of the first and most important defenses against nematodes in the home garden is fall cleanup. Because these plant parasites live in plant roots, a good way to control nematodes, is to pull up and destroy all infected plants especially their roots. Nematode control begins in the fall by doing away with all the roots the worms would overwinter in till spring. Roto-till the garden to find any root pieces left in the soil. Do not place any plant roots into compost piles. Turning the soil several time during the winter will also cut down on the nematode population by exposing the worms and their eggs to the sun and drying them out.

3. Increasing the level of nematode attacking fungus in the soil is another means to fight these garden pests. Nematodes and their eggs have an outer coating that contains chitin, the same material found in the shells of crabs and shrimp. There are several common types of soil fungus that feed on chitin, so if the population of those fungi are increased, they will attack the nematodes and their eggs. Using a fertilizer or a nematicide made from crab shells or shimp by products, will feed the fungi and cause their populations to rise. Again these products should be applied in the fall and winter prior to planting so the fungus population has time to increase before nematode susceptible plants are set out. Eco Poly 21 and Clandosan are two products to use for this type of nematode control.

4. There are certain plants that will fight nematodes when used as companion plants, ground covers, or tilled into the soil. Marigolds are well known as a nematode control, but it has been shown in studies that certain varieties are better at the job. The marigold varieties, Single Gold, Nema-gone, Tangerine, and African marigolds have been proven to supress nematode populations especially if they are tilled into the soil as a green cover crop. Other plants that will fight nematodes include: Blackeyed Susan daisy, Indian blanket, and Rape. Use any or all of these plants as companion plants in the vegetable garden, planting them around susceptible crops and then tilling them into the soil at season's end.

5. Another method used to not only kill nematodes but also to control garden weeds is soil solarization. With this method the soil is heated to lethal levels in order kill nematodes, insects, weeds and their seeds, down to a depth of 8 inches or so. A layer of clear plastic is placed over the soil for a period of a month to 6 weeks during the height of summer and the soil is allowed to bake. First the soil must be tilled well for this method to work, as all large clods and trash must be broken up. If possible till in a layer of chicken manure when working the soil as this will cut the amount of time necessary for solarization in half. Green crop manures will also help especially if they are nematode fighters. Water the treatment area well just before covering it with plastic that is 1 to 4 mm thick and that is UV stabilized. Bury the plastic edges so the wind cannot grab it and make sure the plastic is tight to the ground. You must use clear plastic for soil solarization, black or white will not work. Mid summer is the best time to try soil solarization as a nematode control method because of the long, hot, days. In the deep south this works well with tomato growing as they will not produce during the heat of summer any way. Read my article about growing tomatoes in the south. (End of quote)

I live in Southern California. When I read tip #3, I wondered if the HUGE fungus/mold problem my soil and plants have may help some of my plants, like the buddleias in my yard by killing the nematodes? The fall clean up is crucial to my fruit trees, and I try to remove all leaves from the ground all year round. The native oak leaves grow black mold after they hit the ground, and the black mold or fungus gets on the milkweed leaves, and I fight that daily (picking off moldy leaves from the milkweed) because I have about 30 monarch cats in the house and I'll need food for them for the next month or two.

Have you tried any of the tips above to save your plants? That's a shame to lose your buddleias. I fight a lot of problems with my plants too.

You're right, the opened up bush makes it easy for me to check the bush for mantises from a distance. Still no dead butterflies since the bush got trimmed! I think it's working in both ways-the Monarch's are safer and I can check easier.

Thanks, the bush is still in full bloom-so nice. It's been visited by Painted Ladies a lot lately and that's been a treat to watch them! Once there were 3 on the bush that flew in together. One was trying to fly with a Monarch a few times-they did fly together briefly.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to control nematodes in a vegetable garden

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 11:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sooner or later the plants that are vulnerable to nematodes die in our soil. There are things that slow it down, however. If you plant right next to concrete the nematodes tend to stay away. Not sure why this is, but plants that are susceptible to them live much longer if they are planted next to a sidewalk or swimming pool. Also, they like sand,not rich peat.

If one wants plants to last for many years the only way to go is to buy plants that are not bothered by nematodes or those that are grafted onto nematode-resistant rootstock. For example, most roses don't last long in Florida unless they are on fortuniana rootstock. Likewise for gardenias; they need to be grafted to last. Others like camelias don't seem to be bothered at all.

For me, I need to put the buddleias in pots. They do well there, but it's a hassle having to water them so often.

Thanks for all the research.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 1:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

Thanks for the information. I had no idea about that problem with nematodes. Interesting about planting next to concrete and that some plants are resistant and others have to be grafted onto certain rootstock. Sounds like a burden gardening-wise, but I guess we adjust to where we are. The soil here is heavy clay and hard to work with. I stopped trying to amend it a few years back. I used to have a lot of potted plants and know what water hogs they are in the summer.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 2:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Right, there are always positives and negatives to any location. I'm grateful to be able to garden almost year round. I still have monarchs, for example, and many other butterflies and I still have hummingbirds also. There have been years that I've had monarchs all twelve months. Last year they went away for almost three months, but then I had hummingbirds all year long.

Gotta feel bad for the folks up north...

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 7:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

Yes, I was sorry to read on here that Monarchs weren't seen in some Northern states much this year, or barely. Causes some worry. I guess climate is also something that can be adapted to if necessary. I'm grateful as well for the long growing season here. Does Florida's humidity affect the plants with mildew, rust, etc? I have such extreme rust on my roses just the last 2 years, that I defoliate them a few times a year, and that's without watering them at all.

Do you raise Monarchs or grow milkweed?

I didn't do much nematode research, just skimmed that one site, I thought nematodes might be a fungus on the roots and wanted to check. Those microscopic worms are disgusting, good thing we can't see them. I can only imagine the vast amount of hideous microscopic parasitic creatures that live in the soil! Glad I can't see them.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 8:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I grow a lot of milkweed and in that way indirectly raise monarchs. What I do a lot of is transfer caterpillars from plants that they have just about eaten totally to other plants with more leaves.

I don't seem to have much problems with rust or mildew, although there is some. Probably the biggest pests are chili thrips that will devastate roses and white flies and scale which seem to love the gardenias and camellias.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 8:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kudos to you on raising Monarchs.

We have Japanese Beetles up here that defy anything I have ever encountered>:( Massive amounts of damage to a great many plant varieties and no natural enemies. And they go for the roses first, I'm afraid.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 3:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

leafhead, those Japanese beetles sound terrible. Are they a relatively new problem? I'll look them up. Calif. seems to get a new invasive insect regularly. Now we have the invasive African Bagrada bug, (in the stinkbug family) that decimated my colored alyssum and vegetables.

My roses also have something eating the leaves which end up looking like fine lace. Now I just pull the leaves off. Something's also eating holes in my night blooming jasmine + it has a chemical burned look-crispy brown in the center of the leaf, the nurseryman was stumped.

My navel orange tree is dying from the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri Kuwayama) and the greening disease 'Huanglongbing' which is terminal. The Asian citrus psyllid is a carrier/host of the greening disease. That was a great navel tree. :(

When the orange tree is not blooming, I'll try diluted bleach-water, that killed those big yellow-orange aphids on the milkweed on contact, but killed some tiny caterpillars too.

Tom, I hear Florida is hard hit in over 30 counties by the Asian citrus psyllid. Those chili thrips sound VERY bad. You might try water with a small amount of bleach. I have some kind of thrip distorting some of the tender new growth on my milkweed. Maybe it's the hoverfly larvae that's doing it. I also have the whitefly problem. Mildew has ruined my red grapes last 2 years-they had been fantastic. Gardening has gotten harder! I killed an ant invasion with boiling water. I wonder if that wouldn't kill the nematodes? But it would hurt the earthworms.

But, my oleanders and buddleias are doing well. :)

Good for you for growing milkweed Tom!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 3:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

They have been in the USA since 1916. They eat almost anything and lately have shown some interest in Milkweed:(
Trees they really love include Birch and Linden (Basswood),
and shrubs include Roses, Butterfly Bush and anything in the Malva family, esp Hibiscus. They also have a real taste for my subtropical Aroids>:( Amorphophallus konjak seems to be a JB delicacy.
The larvae live in lawns and eat grass roots.
I grow some Oenothera near my Butterfly bushes to draw their fire, since they really love this weedy native as well.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 2:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

Thanks for the information Leafhead. Great amount of damage and no natural enemies is not a good picture. I looked up what their damage looks like and that's exactly how the leaves on my roses can look mid summer. I check the rose and night blooming jasmine leaves and I can never find anything. My Rose of Sharon bush is next to the roses and has stayed okay.

Leafhead, have you ever tried or had any luck with diatomacious (sp?) earth? I tried it on ants and it didn't phase them. I threw it all over the navel orange tree, and I think it did slow the problems down. It might be worth trying.

So unfortunate that world commerce has spread so many foreign invading species around the globe, harming natural habitats, our agriculture and gardening!

My milkweed leaves have several different insects right now I think partly because there is not much other tender new plant growth around this time of year. I pushed my MW growth by cutting it back and fertilizing heavily-just to guarantee a food supply for all the late eggs being deposited-a serious problem-hard to pretend they aren't out there (for me). The second instars are TOO cute! Am still finding a few eggs and first and second instars daily! (help)

I'm worried about running out of MW for the 30 Monarch larvae in the house. Without the black mildew (or mold?) and insects on the MW it wouldn't have been a problem. Next year I'll grow potted milkweed in the house for back-up. Then no worries about bugs, mold, cold temps at night, OE, etc.

I'm thinking about covering the plants at night--I see the cold night-time temps are beginning to slow new growth. Had I never let that "weed" go into seed a few years back ...... :)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 9:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I tried something called Milky Spore, a type of bacteria isolated from NJ soil and used against the larvae. I used this two summers ago (it takes a year or so) and haven't seen as many grubs or beetles, except on those Aroids!! I'm kind of plus or minus on its results, but it seems to be working a little. I might apply more this next season.
I would also like to attract and harbor the Spring Tiphia wasp (Tiphia vernalis), which parasitizes the grubs. They are said to visit certain nectar sites, such as Tulip Trees.
There are also nematodes, but they are spectrum killers and I'm afraid they'll eat my cats, esp underground Hummingbird Moth pupae.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 12:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

"There are also nematodes, but they are spectrum killers and I'm afraid they'll eat my cats, esp underground Hummingbird Moth pupae".

this sentence I don't understand. The nematode could eat the cats? Not necessary to clarify unless you care to-- being an older post. Just had me wondering. I might try the milky spore.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 11:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I had quite a lot of damage from JB at my two previous gardens. Now I have mostly shade, and haven't seen a JB in my yard at all. The milky spore is great for localized control of the larvae, but the beetles fly into treated yards from the neighbor's lawn. So, it's hard to tell how much good the milky spore is doing. I treated my yard and I understand it stays active for many years. We just need to get more folk to treat their yards. Then again, I hope the milky spore doesn't turn out to be some sort of problem later on. Nothing is perfect.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 8:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo Southern CA.)

Interesting how shadiness influences the JB presence. Do you get less growth on your plants in the growing season due to shade? I wonder if the JB favors new growth and that could be why?
I've done away with my lawns and am trying to decide what to do with 1/3 acre of clay. I had lots of grubs in the dirt under the small lawn I recently took out.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 3:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It is interesting about JB's and sun/shade. I wonder if they just prefer the plants that prefer sun?

I've been trying (for years) to grow only those flowers that they leave alone. I think I saw one JB last summer - on sweet basil.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 7:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

It's hard to know what exactly is effecting the presence or lack of Japanese beetles I my yard. They loved my raspberries, which I don't have now. My new garden is still getting established, so I have lots of small perennials and grew tons of zinnias for filler. My new garden is also right along a quite busy and fast-moving road, so the wind factor might influence which bugs visit. The shade certainly slows growth on some of the sun-loving plants, but I'm also not growing as many sun plants. I think it takes a few years for insects and other forms of wildlife to discover and populate a new garden. I look forward to watching the evolution. And I add more new plants every year. This spring I'm focusing on native shrubs for early nectar and fruiting. Good luck to all.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 7:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Monarch Ma So cal;
Been off GW for awhile, as everything's a foot deep under snow :(
Getting back to nematodes,
They would only eat caterpillars that pupate underground. (Not actual cats.) Nematodes sold to eat JB grubs eat other unintended insects as well. Try the Milky Spore though this Summer and let me know what you think.
I'm hoping for another light year for JBs as it's been so cold this winter.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 2:18PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Milkweed germination times and rates
Someone was kind enough to send me all sorts of seeds...
kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)
Commercial grown Milkweed
Coral Honeysuckle
I remember reading that Coral Honeysuckle is a good...
Spring preview
Unseasonably warm temps caused early flowering of desert...
Journey of the Butterly
PBS stations are repeating The Incredible Jouney of...
Sponsored Products
Ingo Maurer | My New Flame Table Lamp
$600.00 | YLighting
Kirkland Bath Bar by Hudson Valley Lighting
$320.00 | Lumens
Fringed Burlap Panel
Ballard Designs
Artemide | Tolomeo Mini LED MWL Floor Lamp
Lighting on the Square Bronze 28 1/2" Wide Bath Wall Light
Euro Style Lighting
Cosmopolitan Bar Cart
$799.00 | FRONTGATE
Nickel Table Lamps: Las Vegas 15 in. 40-Watt Matte Nickel Table Lamp 90094A
$33.00 | Home Depot
Chrome Traditional Rigid Riser,Overhead Shower Head & Handheld Sprayer
Hudson Reed
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™