Praying mantids are apex predators in the garden. That means they eat other insects but not many insects bother them. They occupy the same niche that grizzly bears or sharks do in other settings. They do not bite humans, but will pinch a finger in their well developed front legs if forced to defend themselves.
Praying mantids grow to 3-4 inches in length. They are an ambush predator, remaining motionless until prey comes within reach. At that point, they snatch the prey with lightening speed. This looks like the strike of a snake it is so quick.
In the fall, praying mantids lay their eggs in a frothy, sticky, substance that is stuck to twigs, plant stems, and other objects. In the spring, tiny praying mantis emerge from the egg mass. They eat smaller insects. If those are in short supply, they eat each other.
Adult mantids eat everything they can catch. They are one of the only predators that catch moths after dark, and are fast enough to catch mosquitoes and flies. They eat a lot of insects.
Some places sell mantid egg masses for you to put in your garden for pest control. You should not expect that to solve all your pest problems. Because praying mantids eat all insects, introducing a hoard of them can actually make things worse. Mantids will eat your beneficial insects just as readily as the pests. Soon you will have nothing but mantids, who will turn on each other. Dropping apex predators into an ecosystem, such as your garden, just doesn’t work well.
A better bet is to use integrated pest control, with praying mantids encouraged and protected when they occur naturally. Be careful about spraying pesticides and remember that a few pest bugs are needed to feed the beneficial bugs who keep things in check.
For more help gardening, buy my book, Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up
Available in print or ebook from Amazon.com or other retailers, this book walks you from choosing the site of your garden all the way through what to do after the harvest. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend today!