Tag Archives: praying mantis

Bird Eating Praying Mantis


Step 1: Catch bird. Step 2: Eat brain. Step 3: Decapitate.

Giant bugs with a taste for meat sounds more sci-fi than fiction. But this horrifying hunger is more

 widespread than we think, and could be happening in your own backyard.

I’m not talking about blood-thirsty spiders, or anthropomorphic cockroaches. No, I’m referring to praying mantises and their penchant for catching and consuming birds.

Mantis (Stagmomantis limbata) eating an Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) in the Sierra foothills in California. The bird first became impaled by a barbed wire. Image: Megan Ralph/Dryad Ranch

Bird-eating mantises are a feat of nature that’s rarely seen by humans. Yet, this phenomenon was curious enough for a group of zoologists from Switzerland and the United States to investigate. Knowing that praying mantises are carnivorous, not to mention voracious hunters, the researchers pored over 147 incidents—both amateur and scholarly—of mantis-on-bird predation, hoping to find clues about this behavior.

“Most experienced birders and ornithologists have at least heard about this behavior, but most backyard birders are still shocked to hear about it,” Kenn Kaufman, a field editor at the National Audubon Society who was not involved in the study, told me in an email. “One of the bird magazines published a photo of a mantis munching on a hummingbird a few years back, and as you might imagine, some readers totally lost their shit over it.”

A mantis eating a Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) in Colorado. Image: Tom Vaughan

The group’s findings, which were recently published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology, suggest that mantises all over the world are chowing down on unsuspecting avians. Praying mantises were observed eating 24 different bird species across 14 families. Nearly 70 percent of accounts happened in North America, where tiny hummingbirds were the most common prey. States with the highest incidents of this, according to the study, were New York, North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, and California.

“In the older literature, there are all sorts of anecdotes of mantises eating bizarre prey, such as centipedes and poisonous spiders, but these were usually ‘Gladiator’ encounters where investigators would throw together a mantis and another fearsome invertebrate in a jar or cage,” Michael Maxwell, the study’s co-author and a behavioral ecologist at National University, told me in an email.

But sites like YouTube have made it easier for modern scientists to collect footage of mantises capturing birds in the wild. The idea to review reports of attacks stemmed from wanting “to sort out who is predator and who is prey,” Maxwell added.

Interestingly, this behavior was observed on every continent except Antarctica, spanning twelve mantid species—something the study’s lead author Martin Nyffeler, a senior lecturer at the University of Basel, called “a spectacular discovery” in a statement.

“For many of us, the most surprising thing about the new study is the range of non-hummingbirds recorded as mantis prey,” Kaufman added. “The others are all very small songbirds, but still, some of them must weigh as much as one-third of an ounce, which seems like a lot for any insect to deal with.”

Weirdly, all of the mantises were identified as female. Females aren’t necessarily more aggressive, but they do engage in sexual cannibalism if very hungry. Twice, female mantids were observed feeding on a bird while also mating with a male.

The implications of this weren’t addressed in the study, but the authors noted that predation often involved larger mantids, averaging six centimeters in body length. Coincidentally, some species of praying mantis are sexually dimorphic in size, meaning females outweigh their male counterparts.

Read the full article @ Motherboard

Praying Mantis

I haven’t seen a praying mantis since I was very very young. When I began walking I was surprised to notice this huge dark brown insect looking thing crawling on the wall. Taking a closer look I realized it was a praying mantis. Continuing my journey I hopped in the car and went to wherever I was going … On my return I thought of the mantis right before inserting my key to unlock the door to the house, wondering where it went. Then I looked up and there it was… I took this as a sign so here is the symbolism of the praying mantis.

The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we’ve flooded our lives with so much business, activity, or chaos that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us because of the external din we’ve created.

After observing this creature for any length of time you can see why the symbolism of the praying mantis deals with stillness and patience. The mantis takes her time, and lives her life at her own silent pace.

A List of Praying Mantis Symbolism

  • Stillness
  • Awareness
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Mindful
  • Calm
  • Balance
  • Intuition

The mantis never makes a move unless she is 100% positive it is the right thing for her to do. This is a message to us to contemplate and be sure our minds and souls all agree together about the choices we are making in our lives.

Overwhelmingly in most cultures the mantis is a symbol of stillness. As such, she is an ambassador from the animal kingdom giving testimony to the benefits of meditation, and calming our minds.

An appearance from the mantis is a message to be still, go within, meditate, get quite and reach a place of calm. It may also a sign for you to be more mindful of the choices you are making and confirm that these choices are congruent.

I Definitely needed that message.

Source: Whats your Sign