Do Praying Mantes Eat Spiders? (Fact Checked)


The insect kingdom has great hunters, such as the praying mantis. They combine camouflage, stealth, and speed to kill their prey and escape from potential danger in the same light.

So, do praying mantes eat spiders? A praying mantis can eat most spider species as long as they are smaller and non-venomous. They will avoid attacking giant spiders or toxic ones like the black widow. The mantis utilizes its excellent hunting skills and other innate abilities to attack the spider. It has clawed front limbs, excellent eyesight, agility, and can camouflage. However, the spider and the mantis consider each other as prey. Thus, if the mantis is not cautious, the spider may instead devour it.

This article will investigate the praying mantis’ diet to understand whether it can devour a spider or not. We will further illustrate how and why it hunts it down. Read on as we check these and more facts.

Can a Praying Mantis Kill a Spider?

The praying mantis loves to eat live insects. It has good vision, the ability to camouflage, and remarkable agility, making it one of the best hunters among wild insects. As long as the other animal is not intimidating, the praying mantis will take its chance.

The mantis can quickly kill a spider. The spider is a top food choice for the praying mantis since it is wholesome and nutritious. Most spiders are tiny compared to the mantis, making it easy to make a meal of them. However, the mantis will not try to attack a giant spider since the spider may turn the mantis into prey instead. Similarly, they will shy away from venomous spiders or if the spider is generally intimidating.

Although the mantis is good at hunting, it is afraid of threatening insects. It has to be cautious when dealing with spiders; they only attack small and non-venomous species.

The mantis loves to hunt down live insects, especially the ones useful to plants. They prefer grasshoppers, aphids, crickets, and other small insects. For nutritional reasons, they can add other small reptiles and birds to their diet. The bottom line is, whenever the mantis has its eye on prey, it is unlikely to miss.

What Types of Spiders Are Eaten By Praying Mantes?

Although mantises love devouring live insects, they have to be careful in their choices. The hunt must have nutritional value and has to be an easy kill. Therefore, are they still picky when it comes to spiders?

Mantises will eat any spider that comes their way, but there are a few exceptions. The spiders must be alive, non-venomous, and smaller than the mantis. They can eat some common low-risk spiders like the typical house spiders, huntsman, or trap door spiders, depending on their geographical location and the species available. However, they would never eat a dead spider, even if it is small.

Similarly, they find large spiders threatening. It is easy for giant insects to eat them; hence, they try to avoid them. Also, if they know that a spider is poisonous, they prefer to stay away. A single sting from such insects could instantly kill them.

Since they are predatory insects, they will target other insects for their meals. It is easy for them to attack the spider, using their unique skills, as long as the spider does not pose a severe threat. Otherwise, they may end up the prey. Notably, the larger the mantis, the larger the spider it will eat.

Which Spiders Do Mantises Avoid?

Adult mantises are not very picky when choosing their insect meals; they only consider their prey’s size and whether they are venomous or not. Most importantly, they value dietary choices because it significantly influences their general health and lifespan.

First, the mantis will be terrified of an enormous spider. It is easy for a giant spider to overpower it and turn on the mantis for food. When the spider and the mantis face each other, the fight could go either way, depending on who is a bigger and better hunter. They avoid spiders like the black and brown widow and the funnel webs.

Such spiders are famous for their deadly venom and poisonous bites. The spiders are one of the most feared insects, and they will always use their poison as a defense during predatory attacks. The mantis stands no chance against these types of spiders.

As much as the mantis is well-known for its prowess in hunting, it can still fall prey to other insects. If it feels that it will lose the battle, the only resort is to retreat. It may be difficult, but not impossible, for a non-venomous spider to overpower the mantis.

On the contrary, even its powerful limbs are no match to a spider’s venomous sting. It is also common for a spider to eat a praying mantis. If the mantis gets entangled in a spider’s web, it becomes an easy meal because it will fail to move or retaliate.

The two insects’ relationship is quite volatile. Thus, if you wish to have them both as pets, you will have to consider placing them in different tanks. The large insect will be threatening to the other, and you may find one of them dead. Even if they are of the same size, placing both in the same place may be risky.

Why Do Mantises Hunt Down Spiders?

The spider is just like any other insect the mantis can devour. However, certain factors make it a top dietary choice for the mantis.

Spiders are a mantis’ source of protein, zinc, and other necessary nutrients. Therefore, by hunting down a spider, a mantis will have a great diet, rich in the nutrients it needs. Such a meal is not only wholesome, but the mantis will be satisfied afterward. Eating a spider is a great chance to feed on a fleshy, nutritious meal.

Also, the praying mantis is a carnivore; thus, it feeds on other insects to obtain proteins, fats, and other key nutrients. They also need to hunt for better health and general well-being.

Another advantage is that the spider lacks the mantis’ elaborate hunting skills, therefore, the mantis will easily attack and overpower it. If they are of the same size, the mantis has an upper hand when they are in combat. In contrast, if the spider is giant, the mantis’ winning chances drop significantly.

How Do Praying Mantises Eat Spiders?

Every animal has its tactics when hunting down prey. They utilize their strengths while taking advantage of their prey’s weaknesses; the praying mantis is one example.

Based on their wild instincts, the mantis will attack an unsuspecting spider from the rear. They use their powerful forelimbs to attack and keep the spider in its grip. It has to ensure that the spider is firm in its hold and is entirely immobilized because it would otherwise escape. The mantis will then tear into the spider’s exoskeleton using its mighty mouth.

They also have to be tactical in their endeavor to ensure that the prey doesn’t escape from their hold. The mantises also have to target smaller and non-poisonous spiders. By attacking from behind, they are trying to avoid the spider’s venomous sac. However, this venom is not toxic when ingested unless when injected into the mantis’ body.

The creatures are carnivorous animals, relying on insects like spiders as protein sources. Primarily, mantises are “waiting” predators, meaning they sit still waiting for their meals to appear. They wait in a praying posture, which is likely how they get their name. In contrast, there are other species like the Entella mantis that chase down their prey. Whether in the wild or in captivity, the mantis only feeds on live animals.

Once a potential prey comes into the picture, they will instantly strike. The insects are exceptionally skilled in the art of hunting, making it rare for them to miss a target once it’s in line of sight, especially if it’s small. Their arms are a lethal asset since they use the claws attached to grip the spider. As a result, the prey cannot move or escape.

Moreover, they are gifted with camouflage, enabling them to blend well with the environment. Their body color and structure make it hard for predators and preys to spot them when they lie among the leaves or tree branches. This skill makes it easy for them to catch a spider unaware. As soon as they are done eating, you will find them cleaning up using their legs to eliminate leftover insect particles on their mouth or body.

Praying Mantises Eat Spiders

Based on our findings, the spider and the mantis consider each other as prey. Their relationship is interesting since they are both dangerous to the other. Therefore, it is advisable not to have them both as pets or place them in the same enclosure. The mantis will only devour a spider if the spider is smaller and non-venomous. They will avoid giant spiders and stay away from toxic ones like the black and brown widow. It is easy for the giant spider to overpower it; similarly, it takes a short time to succumb to a poisonous sting.

However, the mantis has a field day when the spider is small. Thanks to its hunting prowess, and unique talents, it is easy to devour any unsuspecting insect. It has strong limbs, good vision, camouflage, agility, and stealth, making it one of the most lethal insects in the animal kingdom.

Recent Posts