Praying mantis


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    If monarchs are poisonous to birds, are they poisonous to praying mantis? I put a monarch out in the sun to dry off today and on checking on her, all I found was half a wing left and a huge female p. mantis had eaten the rest :( :(

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    Marie Smith

    Hi Jimbo,

    You maybe putting too much blame on the p. mantis, but they are certainly great eaters of caterpillers. I’d suggest that the hunting wasps are busy at your place too.

    My mother, who is 91, has two swan plants on her terrace in terracotta pots. Not a caterpiller in sight and although she said she hadn’t seen any paper wasps about, I was sure they were to blame for the caterpillerless state of her plants.
    On Christmas eve I took her 14 tiny caterpillers and a caterpiller cosy. I put the wee catties on one of the plants, put the cosy over it and fastened the drawstring at the bottom. A few days ago I got a very excited call from her saying that there were 14 big fat caterpillers on the plant with the cosy and still none on the unprotected plant. LOL Success! Now the caterpillers are all turning into crystallis’s inside the cosy at the top, so they will be safe too, as will the newly hatched butterflies. Once the butterflies have hatched and hardened off it’s just a case of gently putting your hand around them and bringing them into the open and freedom! :)))

    Happy hatching …



    Jimbo, I’ve always enjoyed and protected my praying mantis also but not quite so keen on them nowadays. However, they do also eat wasps. I guess its a bit of a jungle out there. The monarchs seem particularly vulnerable to praying mantis when they are drying out. I now put them on fresh flowers in a vase at my front door and let them stay there undisturbed for a few hours and regularly check for p. mantis lurking. Once they are actually up and flying and frolicking, they seem to be able to get away from p. mantis.

    I have just bought a cozy to put over my swan plant – it seems to be working well and praying mantis and wasps can’t get near by cats or eggs. Have a look in photographs on our monarch site.



    Well that answers my question. I always thought they were frinds in the garden.

    I had 16 new plants with 40+ small caterpillers in 4 days not one of them survives.


    Discovery Team

    One of our members has had an amazing experience with a praying matnis. She lives in the Hawke Bay area, and when I’m home tomorrow, I’ll track her down and ask her to tell you her tale in the forum here.


    Marie Smith

    Very sad … but a fairly common event around here! Sad to say that our population of praying mantis seems to grow with our population of butterflies. They are dynamite on the caterpillers as well. So my guess is that the praying mantis has a “firewall” against whatever poison the caterpillers might contain. Nature can seem very unkind sometimes.
    Happy hatching

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