- Friday, January 10, 2014
Taken from Organic Gardening online :http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/praying-mantis
It's an esoteric debate that sometimes erupts among organic gardeners: Are praying mantises good bugs or bad bugs? The question is irrelevant, even inane, says Dan Digman, an entomologist at Ohio State University. Mantises (also known as mantids) are predators—pure and simple. If hordes of Mexican bean beetles are defoliating your wax beans, you can bet that nearby mantises will be munching beetles. But if a tasty lacewing or honeybee flies within snagging distance, don't expect a mantis to pass up such an easy meal. To a mantis, all bugs are good bugs—good to eat, that is.
"Generally, mantises are good for the garden. They're part of a solution to a pest problem," says Digman. "But they eat beneficials, too. And if nothing else is available, they'll eat each other."
Warm-Weather Beasts Mantids are warm-region insects. Although 1,800 species exist worldwide, only 11 are found in North America. The Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina), which is widespread through the South, and the obscure ground mantid (Litaneutria obscura), common in the Great Plains and arid West, are American natives. But the Chinese mantis (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis) and the common European mantis (Mantis religiosa) were both introduced to the Northeast for insect control. All are known by the common name praying mantis.