Chinese Mantis

Common Name: Chinese Mantis.

Scientific Name: Tenodera Sinensis.

What to look for?  Eerie-looking, large, brown stick-like insect! The Chinese Mantis is a large, long insect. The first section of the thorax is very long. Its overall coloration is predominantly brown with green edges on the forewings creating a line running down the side. The head is triangular and swivels, so the mantis can track prey – even behind it without otherwise moving. The Chinese Mantis has very large eyes and a pair of short antennae. As in all other mantis species, its first pair of legs is modified into a folded pair of arms (i.e., “praying mantis”) that are adapted for grasping prey.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Chinese Mantis are well camouflaged in the trees and woody shrubs around Carillon Stonegate Pond, so may be difficult to find in their natural environs. They typically are here in September and October. If lucky, they may take hold on your house and patio for easier sighting.

How big are they? Large! The Chinese Mantis averages approximately three (3) to five (5) inches in length. It has a wingspan of one and one-half inches. And a Chinese Mantis weighs approximately 0.1 ounces.

What are their flight patterns? The Chinese Mantis is mostly flightless. Males can fly short distances occasionally. Females do not fly at all, despite having wings.

How else do they behave? The Chinese Mantis will perch in woody shrubs, tall plants or other areas with a view, waiting to snatch insects that fly or crawl past. Their head swivels, so they can track prey without otherwise moving.

What’s for dinner? Chinese Mantis eat all kinds of insects and spiders. And adult females have been known to eat small reptiles, amphibians, and even hummingbirds.

Where do they take up residence? The Chinese Mantis is native to Asia - specifically Japan, India, and Indonesia. It was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s and now is common throughout the eastern United States and California. Chinese Mantis are usually found in prairies, grasslands, meadows, agricultural fields, and woodlands, and adjacent to ponds, rivers, and streams.

When and where do they breed and nest? Chinese Mantis live for only about nine (9) months. They hatch after about six (6) weeks of development in early spring. They spend the rest of the growing season eating, growing, and molting. Nymphs grow through as many as seven (7) instars before developing wings and becoming adults in late summer. At the end of the growing season, they mate, and females will lay eggs - as many as several hundred - in late summer. They deposit their eggs onto twigs or bark in masses called ootheca. The tough ootheca egg case protects the eggs all winter. In spring, the young hatch out almost all at once. If they cannot disperse right away, they will eat each other. Eventually, the lifespan of the Chinese Mantis will end when the winter freeze arrives.

Where do they migrate? The Chinese Mantis does not migrate. Rather newly laid eggs overwinter.

Do they make any interesting sounds? No.

Interesting Facts About the Chinese Mantis:

  • The Chinese Mantis and other mantids hunt in a posture with their front legs raised, which is how they earned the common name of “praying” mantis.

  • Birth and death largely are dependent on environmental temperatures - eggs hatch in the early spring when temperatures warm up, and adults die during the first frost.

  • About 90% of Chinese Mantis nymphs die before reaching adulthood - primarily due to lack of prey in the spring when they hatch. They are also especially prone to desiccation during drought and heat waves.

  • The Chinese Mantis has high visual acuity due to its large eyes and the mobility of its head, allowing it to detect other Chinese Mantis and its prey.

  • The mantid native to the U.S. is the smaller Carolina Mantis.

  • The infamous mating myth – or fact: the female sometimes eats the male during copulation, starting with his head.

For more information on the Chinese Mantis and sources of information used in this blog (these are the several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Field Station (The Bug Lady).

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!