How to Feed a Pet Praying Mantis

The praying mantis is a master of disguise and stealth.
The praying mantis is a master of disguise and stealth. (Image: mantis image by Gerhard Führing from

The praying mantis (also called praying mantid) can make a fascinating pet, as long as you are willing to feed it the live insects it requires for food. Mantises are stationary predators. They sit still and wait for their prey to come to them. They are the only insect with a neck that allows their heads to swivel from side to side, and they use it to watch their prey come closer and closer. When the bug gets close, the mantis strikes by grabbing with its forelegs, and eats its victim alive.

Feed praying mantises appropriate sized food. The prey insect should be approximately half the size of the mantis's head. Fruit flies, crickets, waxworms and mealworms are good choices and are available at pet stores.

Provide food and water for crickets in the mantis's cage. That way they won't have the urge to nibble on the mantis while it is eating another cricket.

Use forceps to feed inactive food items like mealworms and waxworms. Mantids are attracted to moving food items, and these bugs just don't move enough to stimulate their interest. Mealworms and waxworms might also burrow under the substrate, where the mantis can't reach them.

Feed a praying mantis as much as it will eat, although they can go quite some time without food, according to the Amateur Entomologists' Society website.

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