What Does a Baby Praying Mantis Eat?

Baby praying mantises eat prey that is similar to those eaten by adult praying mantises, including insects and other invertebrates. However, because the hatchlings are much smaller than the adults are, they must concentrate on much smaller prey species. Common prey for the youngsters include flies, mosquitoes, spiders, small larvae and grasshoppers.

In general, praying mantises are not very selective about the species they eat. They will consume whatever prey they can capture, which, for adults, occasionally includes vertebrates such as hummingbirds, lizards and frogs. The young praying mantises cannot capture such large prey, but they are not selective either and may eat virtually any creature small enough for them to overpower. When prey is scarce, praying mantises may eat flower pollen.

Praying mantis females are infamous for eating their mates after copulation. However, as explained by the University of Michigan’s Department of Zoology, this occurrence is relatively rare and occurs in captivity more often than in the wild. The primary driving force for this behavior is hunger; well-fed females are unlikely to devour their mates.

Praying mantises produce very high numbers of offspring. This is necessary because the vast majority of the hatchlings do not survive to adulthood. According to the University of Michigan, the egg cases of praying mantises can weigh up to one-third of the mass of the adult.