Bugs Beyond Imagination: Journey into the Realm of Exotic Insects

What and How Mantises Eat: A Complete Explanation



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19 minutes
What and How Mantises Eat

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What’s on the menu for mantises? While you might imagine these fierce-looking insects chomping down on every bug in sight, their diet is actually more nuanced than that. From eating each other to savoring some plants, mantises have a diverse range of tastes and feeding habits that may surprise you.

So if you’ve ever wondered what these fascinating creatures eat or how they go about getting it, we’ve got all the answers right here! Join us as we explore the wacky and wonderful world of mantis diets.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mantises primarily eat other animals, including insects, spiders, and even small vertebrates like lizards and hummingbirds.
  • Hunting behavior of mantises involves using their powerful front legs to capture prey and occasionally camouflaging themselves before ambushing.
  • Captive mantises should be provided with a varied diet of feeder insects, supplemented with calcium-rich sources and vitamin supplements formulated for insects.

What Does Mantis Eat?

Mantises are carnivorous insects, which means that they primarily eat other animals. The type of prey they consume can vary based on their size and species but typically includes insects such as moths, flies, and grasshoppers. Some larger mantis species have even been known to capture and eat small rodents or hummingbirds!

Hunting behavior is different for each species of mantis, but they all typically use their powerful front legs to capture prey. They may also camouflage themselves to blend in with their surroundings before ambushing unsuspecting prey.

In captivity, it’s important to provide a varied diet for your pet mantis. Feeder insects such as crickets or roaches can be offered regularly, along with occasional treats like mealworms or waxworms.

Supplements are also an important part of a captive mantis’ diet. Make sure you’re providing a calcium-rich source (such as cuttlebone) and a vitamin supplement specifically formulated for insects.

In the wild, mantises have been observed consuming both plant matter (such as nectar or pollen) and animal matter (other insects). It’s believed that the plant matter provides them with additional nutrients not found in their typical insect diet.

Understanding what mantises eat is crucial when keeping them as pets or studying them in the wild. By providing proper nutrition and varied food sources, we can help these fascinating creatures thrive!

Types Of Prey

Mantises are known for their carnivorous diet and will prey on various insects, spiders, and even small animals like lizards and hummingbirds.

Some common types of prey that mantises consume include:

MothsMantises will often wait patiently near porch lights or other light sources to catch unsuspecting moths.
FliesMantises are also known to snatch flies out of the air with their powerful forelegs.
GrasshoppersThese insects make up a large portion of the mantis’s diet in the wild. They can be quite challenging to catch due to their quick movements and excellent jumping ability.
SpidersAlthough it may seem counterintuitive, some species of praying mantis have been observed preying on spiders, including species much larger than themselves!

Overall, praying mantises are agile hunters capable of taking down a wide range of prey thanks to their sharp vision and lightning-fast reflexes. Keep reading to learn more about how they hunt their meals!

Hunting Behaviour

Mantises are known for their incredibly stealthy hunting behavior. They are ambush predators, meaning that they will often stay still and wait for prey to come within reach before striking. Mantises have excellent vision and can detect the slightest movements, making them deadly hunters.

Once a mantis has identified its prey, it will use its sharp forelegs to capture it. These forelegs are equipped with spines that help to hold onto the prey tightly. The mantis will then consume its meal alive, often starting with the head or other soft areas of the body.

Despite their carnivorous nature, mantises have been known to occasionally eat other invertebrates, such as spiders or even small vertebrates like lizards or birds if they happen to come across them.

In captivity, mantises can be fed a variety of feeder insects such as crickets or flies. It’s important to make sure these insects are gut-loaded (fed nutritious food prior) before being used as feeders to ensure proper nutrition for your pet mantis. In addition, supplements like calcium powder may also be necessary for captive mantises’ dietary needs.

Overall, understanding a mantis’ hunting behavior is essential in providing proper care and nutrition whether you own a pet or are just curious about their fascinating lifestyle in the wild.

Captive Mantis Diet

If you’re keeping a mantis as a pet, it’s important to make sure they are getting the proper nutrition.

Here are some things to keep in mind when feeding your captive mantis:

Feeder InsectsMost pet stores sell crickets or roaches that can be used as feeder insects for your mantis. It’s important to make sure these insects are gut-loaded before feeding them to your mantis – this means they have been fed nutritious food so that when your mantis eats them, they also get those nutrients.
SupplementsCalcium powder and vitamin powder can be provided as supplements for the mantis. These supplements can help ensure your mantis gets all the nutrients it needs.

When feeding your captive mantis, it’s important not to overfeed them. Overfeeding can lead to health problems and even death. As a general rule of thumb, feed adult mantises once every 2-3 days and nymphs (baby mantises) once per day.

It’s also important not to underfeed your mantis – if you notice that they aren’t eating regularly or seem lethargic, it could be a sign that they aren’t getting enough food or nutrition. In this case, consult with a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets.

Remember, the key is balance – providing the right amount of feeder insects and supplements will help ensure that your captive mantis is healthy and happy!

Feeder Insects

Feeder insects are a staple in the diet of mantises, both in captivity and in the wild. These insects provide the necessary protein and other nutrients that mantises need to survive.

Some common feeder insects that are fed to captive mantises include crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and fruit flies. It’s important to make sure that these feeder insects are not too large for your mantis to handle, as they could potentially harm your pet.

In addition to providing feeder insects, it’s also important to include supplements in your mantis’s diet. Calcium powder is often added to feeders before feeding them to mantises, as it helps with their molting process and overall health.

When feeding your mantis with feeder insects, frequency and amount should be considered. Younger nymphs require more frequent feedings than adults – usually every 1-2 days compared to once or twice a week for adults. The amount of food given will also vary depending on age – smaller amounts for younger nymphs and larger ones for adult specimens.

Overall, providing a varied diet consisting of different types of feeder insects along with supplements is key in maintaining a healthy pet Mantis!


Mantises need more than just prey to thrive. To ensure that your mantis is getting all the necessary nutrients, you can consider adding supplements to their diet.

Calcium is a crucial supplement for mantises as it helps with the development of their exoskeleton and prevents issues like molting problems. You can provide calcium supplements in different forms, such as calcium carbonate powder or cuttlebone, which can be found at pet stores.

Another important supplement is vitamin D3, which aids in the absorption of calcium and helps prevent metabolic bone disease. You can provide D3 supplements by exposing your mantis to UVB lighting or through a commercially available spray.

In addition to these two crucial supplements, there are also other beneficial options available such as probiotics and bee pollen. Probiotics help maintain a healthy gut flora, while bee pollen provides essential vitamins and minerals.

It’s important to add these supplements in moderation and not overdo it. A balanced diet consisting of feeder insects will suffice most of the time, but adding some variety every once in a while won’t hurt.

Now that we’ve covered how to supplement your mantis’ diet, let’s take a closer look at what they actually eat!

Wild Mantis Diet

Mantises are known for their carnivorous diet, and in the wild, they primarily feed on other insects. However, the specific type of prey that a mantis will eat depends on its species and location.

Insects such as flies, moths, crickets, grasshoppers, and spiders are all common prey for mantises. Some larger species may even go after small reptiles or amphibians.

Interestingly enough, some female mantises have been known to eat their male counterparts after mating. This is not always the case, though – it typically only happens in certain species under specific circumstances.

Overall, the wild mantis diet consists mainly of animal matter. While plant matter may occasionally be consumed accidentally when capturing prey or if no other food sources are available, it is not a significant part of their diet.

It’s important to note that while captive mantises can survive on a solely insect-based diet with supplementation as needed (as we’ll discuss later), wild mantises have access to a wider range of nutrients found in different types of insects and animals.

Plant Matter

Although many people think that mantises are strictly carnivorous, some species of mantis have been known to consume plant matter as well. This is especially true for some of the larger species that require more food than smaller mantises.

In the wild, mantises may occasionally feed on pollen or nectar from flowers. They may also eat small amounts of vegetation if they don’t have access to their typical prey or if they need additional nutrients.

However, it’s important to note that plant matter should only be considered a supplementary food source for mantises and shouldn’t make up a significant portion of their diet. In captivity, most pet owners will provide their mantis with a variety of feeder insects in addition to any supplements needed for proper nutrition.

Overall, while plant matter isn’t typically a staple part of a mantis’ diet, it can be an occasional treat or supplement when necessary.

Animal Matter

Mantises are carnivorous insects, and a significant part of their diet includes animal matter. They are known to be skilled predators, and their ability to catch prey is aided by their unique physical features.

Mantises feed on a variety of small animals, such as flies, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, and even small lizards. The size of the prey depends on the size of the mantis; larger mantises can consume larger prey.

One interesting fact about mantis feeding behavior is that they typically eat their prey alive. They use their powerful front legs (known as raptorial legs) to grab onto the victim tightly and then begin eating it from head to tail.

To ensure proper nutrition for captive mantises fed mainly on animal matter, it’s essential to offer them feeder insects like fruit flies or pinhead crickets in adequate amounts according to their body mass or weight.

Feeder insects should also be supplemented with calcium-rich foods such as cuttlebone or eggshells. Providing a varied diet will help keep your pet mantis healthy and happy!

Mantis Nutrition

Mantises are carnivorous insects, and their diet consists mainly of other insects. However, they also consume small vertebrates such as lizards and hummingbirds. As predators, they need a high-protein diet to maintain their energy levels.

In addition to protein, mantises also require carbohydrates and fats for energy. They obtain these nutrients from the body fluids of their prey. Vitamins are also important for mantis health, particularly vitamin A which is necessary for good vision.

Feeding your captive mantis a well-rounded diet is important to ensure its health and longevity. In addition to feeder insects such as crickets or roaches, you can also offer supplements such as calcium powder or gut-loaded feeders that have been fed a nutritious diet themselves.

When it comes to feeding frequency and amount, it’s best to follow guidelines specific to your species of mantis, as different species have different dietary requirements. Generally speaking, adult mantises can be fed every 2-3 days, while nymphs may require more frequent feedings.

In summary, a healthy mantis diet consists of a variety of feeder insects supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Paying attention to the nutritional content of your feeder insects will help ensure that your mantis receives all the nutrients it needs for optimal health.


Protein is an essential component of a mantis’s diet, as it helps with its growth and development. Most of the prey that mantises eat are rich in protein, which makes sense considering that they are carnivorous predators.

When feeding your pet mantis, you’ll want to make sure that they are getting enough protein. This can be achieved by offering them a variety of feeder insects such as crickets, mealworms, and flies. You can also offer them small vertebrates like mice or lizards if you have access to them.

It’s important to note that not all feeder insects are created equal when it comes to their nutritional value. Some insects, like crickets and roaches, have higher protein content than others, like fruit flies or springtails. Consider adding supplements like calcium powder to the feeders to ensure your mantis gets all the nutrients it needs.

In summary, protein is crucial for the development of mantises and should be a mainstay in their diets. Offer them plenty of high-protein feeder insects along with necessary supplements to keep them healthy and happy!


While protein is an essential nutrient for mantises, they also need carbohydrates to maintain their energy levels. Mantises obtain carbohydrates from the plant matter present in their diet. They may consume leaves or other parts of plants along with insects to get a balanced diet.

It’s important to note that not all carbohydrates are created equal, and some sources of carbs may be more beneficial than others. For example, complex carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables provide sustained energy as they take longer to digest compared to simple sugars found in nectar and juice.

Feeding your mantis a varied diet that includes both animal and plant matter can ensure they get the necessary carbs along with other essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Additionally, you can offer feeder insects like crickets or roaches that have been fed nutritious foods themselves as another source of dietary variety for your pet mantis.

Keep in mind that every species of mantis has its own dietary requirements, so it’s important to do research on the specific species you’re keeping before deciding on their diet.


Fats are also an essential part of a mantis’s diet. They provide energy and help to maintain a healthy body weight. Some good sources of fat for mantises include waxworms, super worms, and silk moth pupae.

It’s important to note that while fats are necessary for mantises, they should still only make up a small portion of their diet. Too much fat can lead to obesity and health problems.

When feeding your mantis fatty foods, it’s important to do so in moderation. Offer these types of foods as treats rather than as a regular part of their diet.

Overall, a balanced diet with the right mix of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins is key to keeping your mantis healthy and happy. By varying their diet and providing supplements when necessary, you can ensure that your pet mantis is getting all the nutrients they need to thrive.


Just like humans, mantises also require a variety of vitamins for their overall health. Mantis diets that are rich in animal matter generally provide most of the necessary vitamins. However, it’s still important to ensure that your pet mantis is getting enough nutrients.

Some of the essential vitamins for mantises include:

Vitamin A: This vitamin helps with maintaining healthy vision and skin.

Vitamin B: Mantises require various B vitamins for cellular metabolism and energy production.

Vitamin C: This vitamin plays an important role in maintaining immunity and preventing diseases.

Vitamin D: Helps with calcium absorption and bone growth.

To ensure that your pet mantis is getting all the necessary nutrients, you can consider supplementing its diet with multivitamins or providing them with feeder insects that have been gut-loaded (fed nutritious foods themselves).

It’s also important to note that over-supplementing with certain vitamins can be harmful to your mantis. It’s always best to consult a veterinarian or experienced exotic pet owner before making any significant changes to your pet’s diet.

Feeding Mantis

Feeding mantises can be a fascinating experience, and it’s important to get it right in order to ensure the health of your pet.

Here are some tips on feeding mantises:

Frequency: Adult mantises typically need to be fed once every two or three days, while younger nymphs may require more frequent feedings.

Amount: The amount you feed your mantis will depend on its size and species. As a general rule of thumb, offer prey that is about half the size of your mantis’ body.

Prey selection: When selecting prey for your mantis, keep in mind its species and size. You don’t want to offer something too big that could potentially harm or stress out your pet. Stick with feeder insects such as crickets, roaches, and fruit flies.

Calcium supplements: It’s also a good idea to dust the feeder insects with calcium powder before offering them to your mantis. This helps ensure they’re getting enough calcium for healthy growth.

In summary, feeding your mantis involves careful consideration of the frequency, amount, prey selection, and supplementing their diet with calcium powder if possible. By following these guidelines, you can help ensure the health of your pet praying-mantis!


The frequency of feeding your mantis depends on multiple factors, including age, size, and species. Younger mantises require more frequent meals than adults since they’re growing rapidly. On average, it’s recommended to feed juvenile mantises four to five times a week, while adults can be fed every other day.

It’s also important to note that some species have different dietary requirements than others. For example, some mantises specialize in eating only certain types of insects or even small vertebrates like lizards or frogs. Always do research on the specific species you have and their dietary needs before feeding them.

In general, it’s best not to overfeed your mantis as this could lead to obesity and health problems down the line. Only offer as much food as they can consume within a few hours and remove any uneaten prey from their enclosure afterward.

Remember that each individual mantis is unique with its own appetite preferences and needs; therefore, observing their behavior after mealtime is crucial for getting an idea of how often they should be fed.


When it comes to feeding mantises, it’s important to keep in mind the amount of food they require. Generally speaking, adult mantises need to be fed less frequently than younger ones.

For adult mantises, feeding once every 2-3 days is usually sufficient. When feeding them, offer only as much food as they can consume within a few hours. Overfeeding them can lead to obesity and other health issues.

On the other hand, juvenile mantises need to be fed more frequently – typically every day or every other day. Since they’re still growing and developing at a rapid pace, their energy requirements are higher.

It’s also worth noting that different species of mantis have slightly different dietary needs and may require more or less food depending on their size and activity level. So if you’re not sure how much to feed your pet mantis or the ones you encounter outdoors, it’s always best to do some research on their specific species beforehand or consult with an expert.

FAQ on What and How Mantises Eat

Q: What do mantises eat?

A: Mantises are carnivorous insects and primarily eat other small insects such as moths, flies, grasshoppers, and spiders.

Q: How do mantises catch their prey?

A: Mantises are ambush predators and use their specialized front legs to snatch their prey. They remain motionless, blending into their surroundings, and strike with lightning speed when the prey comes within reach.

Q: Do mantises eat larger prey than themselves?

A: Yes, some species of mantises have been observed preying on larger insects, including species much larger than themselves. This behavior is possible due to their powerful forelegs and efficient hunting strategies.

Q: What challenges do mantises face when catching grasshoppers?

A: Grasshoppers can be challenging prey for mantises due to their quick movements and excellent jumping ability. Mantises must employ their agility and precision to successfully catch grasshoppers.

Q: Are mantises attracted to light sources?

A: Yes, mantises are often attracted to light sources such as porch lights. They will wait patiently near these lights to catch unsuspecting insects, including moths, that are also attracted to the light.

Final Thoughts

Mantises have a unique and fascinating diet that consists primarily of insects, but they’ve also been known to eat other animals and even plant matter. Their hunting behavior is incredibly precise and efficient, making them one of nature’s most skilled predators.

If you’re considering getting a mantis as a pet, it’s essential to understand their dietary needs and provide them with the proper nutrition. Feeder insects like crickets and fruit flies are an excellent source of protein for both captive and wild mantises, while supplements can help ensure they get all the necessary vitamins and nutrients.

Overall, understanding what mantises eat is crucial in caring for these incredible creatures properly. With the right diet and care, your mantis can thrive as both a pet and in their natural habitat.

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