Praying Mantises Can Eat Entire Birds

Praying Mantises Can Eat Entire Birds

It may not be a surprise to learn that many bird species feed on insects. In fact, it is likely that you have even witnessed insects being captured and promptly eaten by predatory birds. However, in many cases, the reverse is true. Researchers have long been aware of the carnivorous mantis, and its taste for large animals. These mantises possess two very strong front legs that are capable of overpowering vertebrae creatures, and not just insects. For example, these strong mantises have been spotted chowing down on mice, lizards, amphibians, and even snakes. However, only recently have researchers discovered mantises from all locations around the world feeding on birds. Researchers have discovered one hundred and forty seven mantises consuming large birds in thirteen different countries. These countries are located on every continent in the world except for Antarctica.

The fact that some mantises feed on birds is not necessarily new information to entomologists. Some published records dating all the way back to 1864 describe mantises eating birds in the country of Argentina, but sixty seven percent of these instances were recorded between 2000 and 2015. More than seventy percent of these cases were observed within the United States. Most bird-eating mantises prefer to feed on ruby-throated hummingbirds. Not only that, but these mantises were also smart enough to stalk, capture and consume hummingbirds near the bird feeders that they frequent. On a more macabre note, the mantises were found to prefer the taste of the bird’s brains since many mantises ate the brains before any other part of the bird. Mantises also prefer to feed on sparrows, finches and canaries. Unfortunately, once the birds were caught, they almost never escaped the strong grip of the mantises’ front legs. In fact, only two percent of captured birds were able to escape from brain-hungry mantises once they were caught. In most areas of the world, mantises do not pose a significant threat to birds, but in the US hummingbirds don’t stand a chance once a dangerous mantis spots them.

Have you ever spotted a praying mantis in the wild? Did you confuse the mantis with a plant upon first sight?


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