Invasive Praying Mantises Released Intentionally Are Now Hunting Hummingbirds

Invasive Praying Mantises Released Intentionally Are Now Hunting Hummingbirds

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Featured image by Randy Anderson – Chinese praying mantis with a ruby-throated hummingbird.

Praying mantises are one of my favorite insects. I had a near-obsession with them when I was a kid and continue to think they’re pretty damn neat. But a new study conducted by zoologists in Switzerland in conjunction with a U.S. team discovered something rather alarming – an invasive species of mantis is hunting hummingbirds in the U.S.

“The fact that eating of birds is so widespread in praying mantises, both taxonomically as well as geographically speaking, is a spectacular discovery,” says Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel and lead author of the study.

But the news was hardly uplifting to many. Of the 147 documented cases of mantises eating birds, 70% occurred inside the United States. Most of those birds were hummingbirds.

Several decades ago, European and Chinese mantises became a popular go-to for pest control in the United States. Using insects to battle insects is absolutely the right idea, but using non-native mantises wasn’t a wise choise.

The authors say these mantises “now constitute a new potential threat to hummingbirds and small passerine birds.”

“Our compilation suggests that praying mantises frequently prey on hummingbirds in gardens in North America; therefore, we suggest caution in use of large-sized mantids, particularly non-native mantids, in gardens for insect pest control.”

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