I was planning on ordering some praying mantis egg sacks online, watching them hatch, and then releasing them in my garden. Someone told me that prayi...
Praying Mantis Invasive? #389660
Asked March 21, 2017, 10:08 PM EDT
I was planning on ordering some praying mantis egg sacks online, watching them hatch, and then releasing them in my garden. Someone told me that praying mantises are an invasive species in Iowa and that they shouldn't be introduced. Is that true? Thanks!
Thank you for your message and for contacting Iowa State University. The praying mantis usually sold online is the Chinese praying mantis,Tenodera sinensis sinensis. This mantis was introduced to the USA from China a long time ago, at least in the late 1800s. It has since spread on its own and in retail trade and is already found throughout most of the USA. See http://bugguide.net/node/view/10098
The Chinese mantis is already common in at least the southern half of the state of Iowa. We have had reports from as far north as Waterloo and Sioux City, but reports from south of Des Moines are much more common. Cold winter temperatures appear to be a limiting factor in the spread and establishment of this "southern" species. We never hear of more than "a few" any year in Iowa.
There are arguments against this mantis because it appears it eats the native species. However, so many have already been released and they are already so wide-spread that further introduction is not likely to make an impact.
Enjoy watching the emergence of the small mantis nymphs! See image.
This work is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.