Nearly every morning I drink my coffee in front of the window and as a fun challenging game, I try to spot the mantids on the flowers. (Do you see the one on the sunflower above and on the verbena below?) I also do this so I can keep an eye on them during the day in case they catch their prey.
For some reason I have a lot of praying mantids in my flower gardens. I was glad to see them early in the spring because I thought them to be very beneficial insects. I was very pleased when saw them on my shrubs eating smaller bugs and harmful insects.
As they got larger they were no longer content to eat the smaller bugs and began stalking larger prey. I've worked diligently this year to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to my flower gardens, planting specific things to attract them. So I wasn't at all pleased to see the praying mantis stalking the things that were bringing me so much delight and were also beneficial pollinators as well. The mantis that seemed intent on stalking the hummingbirds, that I posted about in the link above, met her untimely demise after being knocked off the hummingbird feeder with a broom five times and seeing her attempt it for the sixth time. It was determined to catch a hummingbird but I was more determined that it did not.
I mentioned the feeder incident to my neighbor and she asked me if I had killed the mantis, I told her that I had. She proceeded to tell me that it is illegal, in the state of Indiana to kill a praying mantis. She said when her children were in school they did a bug collecting project and were not allowed to collect mantids because the teacher said it was illegal to do so. I had not heard this before, so I did a Google and found that this is an urban legend that has been around since the 1950's. It is not illegal, nor has it ever been illegal, to capture or kill a praying mantis.
In my search on the mantis I also ran across another rumor. My picture of the mating mantids above proves this one is not true. The female does not rip the males head off to initiate mating. I do wish I had checked back on these two to see if she ate him afterwards. I have read that this also is a rare occurrence for mantids in the wild, and usually only those females in captivity do this to ensure they have enough nourishment for their young.
This mantis was also promptly relieved of her gardening duties after being caught with a butterfly.
There was so much controversy over my post about feeding hummingbirds, that I have hesitated doing this post on the praying mantis for fear that some will be upset that I actually killed a few. As several people told me in the hummingbird post, this is my yard and I should have in it what I want. I have decided the praying mantis is not welcome here, they are not well behaved guests, instead they are pests.