California mantis animal of the week

Going Back to Cali! The California Mantis

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This week we’ve got someone a little creepy crawly for our Animal of the Week…it’s the California Mantis! These awesome invertebrates are part of the Mantid family, just like the praying mantis. Like their name suggests, these insects are found in the wild in the United States. Generally they are found in the drier/warmer areas around southern California. Their color and small size also help give them natural camouflage in their habitat.

Which Plants Does A Praying Mantis Like?

Many gardeners are fans of mantises because they help keep away pests! Just like ladybugs, gardeners will often plant specific plants to attract helpful insects like the California Mantis. You can attract a mantis to your garden with plants from the raspberry family. Marigold, dill, rose plants, and more all attract mantises as well. Mantises in your garden can help get rid of troublesome insects like aphids, flies, spiders, and more.

How Long Do Praying Mantises Live?

Like many small insects, the lifespan of the California Mantis and most others in the mantis family, is pretty short. Eggs will hatch in the spring, and by winter the mantises have mated. After mating, it’s common for the female to eat the male so she has enough protein to create the egg mass, known as an “ootheca”. Some females will survive a bit into winter, but this is around the time most mantises end their life cycle. The average lifespan is a little less than 9 months up to 1 year, bringing us back to spring where the next generation of eggs begin to hatch.

Are They Dangerous?

While all animals in the mantid family are carnivores, none of them pose a real threat to humans. Instead, animals like grasshoppers, aphids, and even other mantises are the ones threatened. A mantis might bite if provoked by a human, but their bites are non-venomous and rarely hurt more than a basic bee sting. This is just another case of an animal being an amazing predator – just never to us humans!

Can A Praying Mantis Eat A Hummingbird?

As previously stated, these animals are predators and full on carnivores, and small birds sometimes end up being their prey! Researchers have studied dozens of cases and found that many mantises prey on small birds, especially hummingbirds. Mantises have been known to also feed on smaller non-insects like frogs and mice, but hummingbirds surprised many scientists. Many believe humans have actually helped to cause this interaction, as we attract mantises to our gardens and put up nectar for hummingbirds, the two end up facing off with the mantis as predator.

How Many Eyes Do They Have?

On first glance, a mantis has two bulging compound eyes staring directly back at you. However, many people don’t know that a praying mantis also has 3 simple eyes in between their compound eyes. So a mantis has 5 eyes in total, and if that didn’t help them see enough, they can also turn their heads 180 degrees around!

 

Thanks for stopping in for another Animal of the Week! Make sure to keep exploring the Kids’ Zone for awesome quizzes & games, and check out our Youtube video of an awesome mantis enjoying a snack!

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Here is some more animal articles for you to read as well:

Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?

Oh My, Oh My…let’s talk about Meyer’s Parrot!

Watch Critter Squad Wildlife Defenders on YouTube!