Natural! Because they are completely carnivorous and have enormous appetites, Praying Mantises provide an ideal alternative to chemical pesticides in the fight against garden pests. Stealthy Homebodies! They use camouflage and stillness to wait for their food to come to them. While other beneficial insects will leave if they don’t find food, the Praying Mantises can be introduced before a pest problem develops, and they will remain in the area to wait for the pests to show up. Additionally, their population will not become overcrowded, because they are just as willing to eat each other as they are other insects. This means they won’t become concentrated in any one area. Clever! Praying Mantis fly, though their wings are mostly folded, and they have an ear-like organ in the center of their chest – helpful for detecting bats or birds of prey. They can hear sound above 20,000 hertz, and if they detect the approach of a flying predator, they swiftly drop, like a fighter jet, to avoid being eaten. Hungry! Praying Mantises feed on a wide variety of garden pests, capturing passing prey with their strong forelegs: aphids, thrips, flies and maggots, leafhoppers, white grubs and other soft-bodied insects, caterpillars, earwigs, chinch bugs, sow bugs, beetles, grasshoppers, and other large insects. There are times, of course, when Praying Mantises may eat things that we would prefer that they didn’t – such as honey bees, solitary bees, butterflies, and even the occasional humming bird. Part of the circle of life, mostly the mantis attracts a variety of birds to the garden and protects the garden from harmful pests. Fun! Praying Mantises have been a good friend of the home gardener for over 100 years. It is always fun to notice the quiet guardian out of the corner of your eye, and know that they are keeping watch. In fact, they are often sold as pets because they are harmless to humans (they have no venom and cannot sting), happy to stay on the gardener’s shoulder and eat bugs that are handed to them. Along with other beneficial insects, they will continue to have an important role in controlling pests in a chemical-free landscape.

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