Michigan Backyard Discoveries: Did You Know There Are Only Two Species of Praying Mantis in Michigan?
Seeing a praying mantis is always a pretty interesting treat, and they are genuinely one of the coolest of all insects out there. Luckily, we get to see them as part of our vast array of Michigan wildlife.
Just the other day, my boyfriend came into the house and informed me there was a Praying Mantis just chilling in the left-rear wheel well of my car. Of course, I had to snap a picture and just look how ADORABLE this little critter was:
Now, I will have you know that photo is only slightly edited to enhance the contrast and colors but those eyes, that cute little smile, the fact it is looking RIGHT AT ME is all natural to our little friend here.
I got thinking about just how cool Praying Mantises are and just how many different kinds there are here in Michigan as I have only ever seen the same, green, kind.
Also, is "Mantises" even the correct pluralization?
Praying Mantis Species in Michigan
As it turns out, first of all, Miriam Webster says it can either be "mantises" or "mantes" when referring to more than one Praying Mantis, so we're good there.
Now, according to Michigan Nature Guy, there are only two species of Praying Mantis in Michigan. They are the European Praying Mantis (scientific name: Mantis religiosa) and the Chinese Praying Mantis (scientific name:Tenodera aridifolia).
Apparently, he says that neither of them are native to Michigan, but they're here now!
Per Nature Guy, they lay their eggs in the fall, "overwinter" on various exposed stems before hatching in May or early June. They then molt quite a few times before reaching adulthood and you are most likely to see them fully grown that next fall.
CLICK HERE for Michigan Nature Guy's full article.
The Difference Between These Michigan Mantes
Both are part of the scientific order, "Mantodea" and both are one of two out of the 2,400 species in existence. According to Brandywine Conservancy, they do also both feed, primarily, on other insects.
Now, let's look at some key differences.
The European Mantis is one like in the photograph I took from my wheel-well. They are often more green in color and, Brandywine Conservancy says, they were purposely introduced as a form of "pest control" for gypsy moths. They also have a "bulls-eye" on their legs, I guess, what you could call their tiny shins.
The Chinese Mantis, however, is actually known for being the "largest mantis species in North America," per Brandywine Conservancy.
They say they were actually ACCIDENTALLY introduced all the way back in 1896 in Mt. Airy, Pennsylvania.
You can tell them apart from European Mantes as they are typically more brown in color and, of course, quite larger:
Can They Hurt People?
"Despite their saw-like arms and alien eyes," National Geographic states. "They pose no threat—unless of course you happen to be an insect, gecko, or hummingbird."
However, that is no need to be afraid of these fascinating critters, in fact, there's a whole community of people who keep them as pets!
All in all, if you see a praying mantis this Michigan fall, it should be pretty easy to identify which species it is...you're welcome.
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