Scientists have always known that the Praying Mantis has eaten smaller bugs, large spiders, frogs, lizards and even snakes. What they didn’t know is that the insect has bigger prey they regularly hunt, kill and eat. Birds. For the first time ever scientists wanted to know if Praying Mantises regularly eat birds and as it turns out, they found 147 instances where the Mantises actually stake out a position whereby they can catch birds. They bite at the neck of the dead birds until they can reach it’s flesh.
The researchers, from universities in Switzerland and the US, found 147 documented cases of this bizarre feeding behaviour from all over the world.
More than 70 per cent were reported in the US, where praying mantises often capture birds at hummingbird feeders or plants pollinated by hummingbirds in house gardens.
Hummingbirds make up the vast majority of birds killed by praying mantises, with the Ruby-throated Hummingbird a particularly frequent victim.
Decades ago, several ‘alien’ species of large mantises were released across North America as natural pest control agents.
Praying mantises are opportunistic hunters, and the invasive species appear to have learned to hang around popular hummingbird feeding spots for an easy meal.
These imported species now constitute a new potential threat to hummingbirds and small passerine birds, the researchers said.
‘Our study shows the threat mantises pose to some bird populations,’ study lead author Dr Martin Nyffeler, from the University of Basel, Switzerland, said.