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Kids love to learn from nature and praying mantis are a fascinating part of the natural world. Kids learn many things by studying these interesting creatures. Nature activities and bug facts for kids are a hands on means brains on activity!
There are many types of insects that are interesting to explore, but praying mantis are a quirky looking little creature that draw attention from many kids and adults alike. They are called praying mantis because of their praying hands type hand position. They are ruthless little bugs that eat good and bad bugs alike.
Praying mantis egg sack
Praying mantises lay eggs in a foam blob. The female exudes this foam from her abdomen hanging on a branch somewhere outside. Usually on a thorny bramble type plant. It will hang there for several weeks until several hundred babies hatch from it.
Even as soon as they hatch, they are combative and look like they are boxing each other or you if you put your finger near them. The adult praying mantis does that as well. It’s so cute.
Their head is triangle shaped with two big eyes on top and their necks can swivel up to 300 degrees to see on all sides of themselves. They can grow up to 6 inches in length and make really fun pets.
The enemies of the praying mantis are spiders, some moths, and especially humans. Insecticides kill more mantises than anything else, as with most insects.
These amazing insects live for about a year. Females mate, sometimes eat the male’s head, lay eggs and then die.
For Printable Playdough Mats with 9 different insect lifecycles, check these out. So fun!
Praying mantis habitat
Praying mantises live wherever they can find prey to eat. They hide in camouflage of plants and attack their prey from hiding. They usually live in warmer climates.
You can attract a praying mantis to your garden by providing water, ground cover and fragrant colorful plants.
Praying mantis diet
Praying mantises have a voracious appetite and begin feeding immediately upon hatching. If enclosed, they will eat each other. They are carnivores, eating insects and even small animals. The insects feed day and night. They are the only predator that will eat moths at night.
These insects are the only insect that is fast enough to catch mosquitoes and flies. Spiders do catch them but by using webs rather than speed. They also have lightning-fast reflexes and excellent eyesight. Little goes on in the garden that the mantis doesn’t know about.
Praying mantis for sale
You can order praying mantis egg sacks to observe. Just remember, as soon as they hatch, let them outside once you’ve had a chance to observe them.
Every year I order a casing or two for the kids to watch. They come in the mail or you sometimes can find them at your local garden store. Put them in a container with air holes and watch and wait. They usually take from 2-8 weeks to hatch and hatch they do!
You’ll be amazed at how many little baby mantises hatch out of that one brown scratchy looking blob. Hundreds of them scurry out all at once and start running around the enclosure. It’s a great learning experience to let kids (and you) see what they come out of, how they come out and their quirky behavior once they do.
Praying mantis facts
These insects do bite or at least try to but I’ve never been able to feel it. They do not have venom so their bite would be harmless.
Learning about praying mantises is great fun. They are the most interesting little creatures. Kids can learn about life cycles, beneficial insects, insect habits, habitats and so much more. They make excellent pets as well. Just make sure you only keep one mantis in a container so they won’t eat one another.
And for more bug facts, check out:
- caterpillar and butterfly facts
- dragonfly facts
- Grasshopper facts for kids
- Ladybug facts
- Rollie pollie facts
- Ant facts for kids