What Do Praying Mantis Eat?

Praying Mantises ( or Mantids) are usually on the top of the list for people looking out for keeping insects as their pet, mainly because they are not so difficult to care for. These amazing insects are carnivores and feed mainly on other insects, some reptiles and even smaller birds. In this article, we are going to discuss in detail about the food for praying mantises, so stay tuned and keep reading.

So what do praying mantises eat? In short, praying mantises feed mainly on smaller insects such as fruit flies, crickets and bees.

What Should You Feed Your Praying Mantis?

The food you should feed to your praying mantis depends on several factors, for example, you have to consider the Instar in which your praying mantis is in, the size of the feeder insects, the size of the praying mantis, etc.

What Do Praying Mantis Eat?

Firstly, lets discuss some general foods for your praying mantis, then we’ll discuss the factors, and later in the conclusion we’ll summarize what foods you should feed your praying mantis based on those factors.

Before you go on to read the later part of this article you have to know that mantises require live food, they will not want to eat something that is not alive and moving.



If you have been feeding your praying mantis bees and you have encountered no problems, you have nothing to worry as they are not harmful to your praying mantis. But I would recommend that if you don’t know much about bees you should steer clear of them, mainly due to two reasons, first of all, bees especially honey bees are quite important for the environment, secondly, while feeding bees you might get bit or worse they might hurt your pet mantis. So keep in mind these two facts while feeding bees and you should be good.

Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are, in my point of view, one of the best food sources for your praying mantises. You can buy them at an insect store, or better yet setup a fruit fly trap yourself at home. You can build fruit fly trap, by taking a jar and putting some fruit in it and then closing the lid with a few holes in it. As soon as you get a couple of fruit fllies, just close the lid properly and put it into your freezer for around 2 minutes, this will make them sleep. Then just drop them to your mantises. They should start moving about five minutes later, if not you probably cooled them a little too much. Nevertheless, they are a great food choice for your Mantises and you should definitely give them a try.



Crickets are also a good food choice for your mantises, but you have to be a bit careful about them. If you get your crickets at your pet store, or even if you collect them yourselves. They should be transferred to a healthy diet around 48 hours before they are fed to your Mantis. You can do this by feeding them with oatmeal, some potato, etc.



Ants are a big NO for your mantises, especially if they are fed in batches, they can do alot of harm to your mantises by biting them, so steer clear of them.

Apart from these common insects mantises also like to eat various aphids, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, caterpillars, and other soft-bodied insects when young. Later they like to eat larger insects, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and other pest insects.

Factors Affecting Food Choice For Mantises.

There are some factors that greatly affect the food that you should give to your mantises, these factors include the size of the mantis and the insect you are feeding it and the instar in which your mantis is currently in.


Instar is the phase between two periods of molting in an insect. In simple terms, it is like the age of a praying mantis. Mantises which are less than at least 3 instars require a lot of care and during these phases require regular attention. As the Mantises grow older they require less and less care. By the time they are in the third instar, mantises usually have shed their skins twice, and they shed their skins around seven times in their lifetime. Male mantises usually shed their skin 1-2 times less than their female counterparts, so that they do not in the breed. That’s all for the discussion, now let’s see how instar affects the food choice.

praying mantis

During the 1st to 3rd instar you should restrict yourself to feeding your mantises, only smaller insects, these may include fruit flies, spring tails, small crickets or small cockroaches.

In the 4th instar you should start to feed them with house flies, crickets and small roaches, in the 5th and 6th instar you should feed them the same insects as in the 4th instar, but they should be slightly larger as the instar progresses.

In the 7th and 8th instar you can feed them larger insects such as bluebottle flies, adult crickets and cockroaches.

Remember, the variety of insects is very good for your Praying Mantis.

1stFruit Flies and Springtails.
2ndFruit Flies and Small Crickets.
3rdFruit Flies, Small crickets, And Small Cockroaches.
4thHouse Flies or Small Cockroaches.
5thSlightly Larger House Flies and Cockroaches than the ones in 4th instar.
6thSlightly Larger House Flies and Cockroaches than the ones in 5th instar.
7thSlightly Larger House Flies and Cockroaches than the ones in 5th instar.
8thAdult Crickets, Blue Bottle Flies, and Cockroaches
Foods Suitable According To The Instar Praying Mantises Are In


The size is also quite important for you to decide which insects you should feed to your Praying Mantis.

There’s a simple formula for this, you have to look at the size of the limbs of your Praying Mantis and judge if they would be capable to handle a larger insect or not. For example, if they are in the 1st to 3rd instar, you should only feed them smaller crickets and house flies, because they won’t be able to handle larger insects.

During later instars, they will start to grow stronger and would easily be able to handle the larger insects.

How Often Do You Need To Feed A Praying Mantis?

The feeding schedule is also greatly dependant on the Instar factor. During 1st and 2nd Instar, when the praying mantises are quite young you should feed them daily or every other day, about 1-3 flies, the number of flies you should feed them can be determined by abdomen thickness.

praying mantis

During 3rd to 5th instar, you should feed them every 1-3 days and the food should be according to their size and Instar as discussed above.

In the 6th instar and later, you should feed them every 1-3 days but the quantity should be a little more, this you can increase by either increasing the number of smaller insects or just feeding larger insects.

Gravid ( or pregnant) females should be fed everyday and they should look quite plump.

InstarHow Often To Feed Them?
1st-2ndDaily Or Every Other Day
3rd-5thEvery 1-3 Days
6th To MaturityEvery 1-3 Days, but Quantity Should Be More
Gravid FemalesDaily
How Often to feed a praying mantis?


Praying mantis food, the quantity they eat, and how often you should feed them is dependent on a number of factors such as instar, size etc.

They mainly eat insects such as cockroaches, crickets, fruitflies and house flies although you can also feed them larger insects such as blue bottle flies and even birds.

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