Chinese Mantid

Tenodera aridifolia

Mark Moran

The Chinese Mantid is the largest and most often seen of our mantids. It was introduced froom China in 1896 to help control pest populations. Our other two mantids, the European Mantid and the Carolina Mantid are much smaller.

Chinese Mantids grow up to five inches long. They can be tan, pale green, or a combination of the two colors. They have long, skinny bodies and long legs. They also have long antennae. Chinese Mantids can turn their heads around 180 degrees to face behind them.

These insects live in meadows and gardens. They are usually found on tall plants, flowers, or shrubs. They camouflage very well with their surroundings.

The Chinese Mantids is often called "Praying Mantis" because of the way it poses with its front legs together under its head. It is actually poised to strike. Mantids lash out with their front legs to grab insect prey.

Mark Cassino

Mark Moran

Copyright, Les Daniels

Chinese Mantids mate in late Summer when they are fully grown. Females will often kill the male after, or even during, mating. A female may turn around and bite the male's head off, finishing him when mating is over.

Female mantids then lay eggs in a foamy liquid on a twig. The liquid hardens and becomes an egg sac called an ootheca. Eggs stay in the ootheca through winter. Young mantids hatch in the Spring.

Baby mantids are called nymphs. They immediately begin eating, usually starting on their brothers and sisters. Up to 400 nymphs may come from one ootheca.

Nymphs will continue to eat and grow. They start on small insects like aphids and small flies. As they grow they shed their exoskeletons (outer skin). They are not fully grown until late Summer.

Larger mantids eat insects such as caterpillars, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, flies, bees, wasps, katydids, and beetles. They also eat other creatures, such as spiders and small frogs.

Copyright, Les Daniels

Chinese Mantids are fairly strong fliers, but they only fly in order to get to a new perch, or to escape a predator.

Smaller nymphs have many predators, including birds, frogs, toads, lizards, spiders, ants, and bats. Larger Mantids have some of the same predators, but not as many. Mostly they are eaten by larger birds.

Copyright, John White

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Unidentified Mantid Eating Prey
Video
Virginia Tech Entomology Department
Mantid's Head Under a Microscope #1
Link to Image
Uglybug.org
Mantid's Head Under a Microscope #2
Link to Image
Uglybug.org
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Honey Bee

Great Crested Flycatcher

Sassafras

Common Milkweed FP

Eastern Yellow Jacket

Red-winged Blackbird

Spicebush

Goldenrod FP

Differential Grasshopper

Red-tailed Hawk

Smooth Sumac

Clouded Sulphur

Common Crow

Eastern Redcedar

Cabbage White

Wild Turkey

Common Milkweed

Eastern Black Swallowtail

American Toad

Goldenrod

Hummingbird Moth

Wood Frog

Common Reed

Painted Lady

Five-lined Skink

Queen Anne's Lace

Giant Willow Aphid

Rabid Wolf Spider

Bull Thistle

Field Cricket

Black Carpenter Ant

Red Clover

Gray Tree Frog

Big Brown Bat

Highbush Blueberry

Pennsylvania Firefly

Garden Centipede

Wild Grape

Goldenrod Spider

Common Black Ground Beetle

Japanese Honeysuckle

Goldenrod Gall Fly

American Robin

Jimsonweed

Blue Bottle Fly

Blue Jay

Pokeweed

Eastern Blood-sucking Conenose

Brown-headed Cowbird

Lamb's Quarters

Chinese Mantid

Bullfrog

Spotted Joe-pye Weed

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

Northern Bobwhite

Common Ragweed

True Katydid

Great Blue Heron

Climbing Bittersweet

Bald-faced Hornet

European Starling

Swamp Rose Mallow

Relationship to Humans:

Chinese Mantids are considered very helpful by people. They eat large numbers of insects. What people don't know is that they probably eat as many "good" insects as "bad" insects. Many people also buy oothecas to put in their gardens, hoping that they'll have plenty of mantids to eat pests. However, mantids usually travel a fairly long distance away from where they are born. If they stuck around, they would all eat each other! Mantids are not pests, but they are sometimes attracted to lights and can be seen on window screens at night.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Arthropod
CLASS
Insect
ORDER
Orthoptera
FAMILY
Mantidae
GENUS
Tenodera
SPECIES
Tenodera aridifolia

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