Why Are Praying Mantis So Scary?

Many people perceive praying mantis as spiritual creatures and relate them to good fortune when it comes to their door, but a few find these insects scary due to their appearance and behavior.

Why Are Praying Mantis So Scary? Praying mantis are so scary as these carnivorous insects look like aliens or cruel monsters with bulging eyes and menacing claws. They are involved in swift and agile strikes, coital cannibalism, and devouring living prey. They eat their babies and mates and can pinch the human skin.

Praying mantis phobia is not common among people, but it exists in those who are aware of their carnivorous eating habits and solitary nature.

Aliens-like appearance

Praying mantis look like aliens as their bodies appear quite different from other ground insects. These scary little insects share homes with humans and are commonly found in the garden.

They are smart and live on plants and hide under the bigger leaves when they feel a threat. This habitat helps get out of sight of predators quickly as they are masters of camouflage.

Their bodies appear green or brown in color, allowing them to hide behind the green leaves or stems and brown tree trunks.

Moreover, their triangular heads and bulging eyes make them different from others because other creatures usually have rectangular heads and two small compound eyes.

These insects are amazing head-turners as they can rotate their heads at 180 degrees, which allows them to have a better view of their surroundings while looking for prey.

In addition, they attain a unique praying position by folding their front legs, giving them a distinctive appearance among insects.

Furthermore, their bodies are raised from the ground surface more than the other insects that are only at the height of a few millimeters from the ground.

So, many people get scared to see these insects turning their triangular heads and attaining a praying posture when they are ready to attack their prey.

Cruel monsters for prey

Praying mantis are known to be cruel monsters for the prey animals because they are ambush predators and attack secretly, providing no chance for retaliation.

They wait for their prey to come at a close distance, even if it takes many hours. This patience pays them well as it reduces the chances of losing prey.

Moreover, these insects do not follow their prey to capture and eat them. These cruel monsters have great patience and wait for smaller insects like flies to sit on the closest branch of a tree.

They can detect prey from a distance of 55 to 60 feet but do not react until they get a chance to attack. They remain hidden under the leaves or behind the stem.

Accordingly, you can see them attacking their prey when their total distance reduces from feet to inches. So, their prey insects perceive these as cruel monsters.

Swift and agile strikes

Praying mantis make quick strikes and are considered fast attackers because they do not lose any opportunity when their prey is present at the closest distance.

It quickly jumps and lands on the prey’s body with great precision, as they have amazing agility like cats. They make a strike in the 1/20th of a second or even less than a blink of an eye.

Moreover, these scary insects show swift movement and land perfectly on the prey’s body to grab them with the help of their front legs. They attain a unique posture by bending their forelegs, which helps in agile strikes.

Their strikes are divided into two phases; the first one involves the extension of the front arms up and away from the body. It is followed by a sweeping phase when it captures and pulls the prey.

This scooping and pulling behavior of mantis does not take more than a second, leaving no chance for prey to defend for survival, and they have to surrender to these cruel monsters.

Involved in coital cannibalism

Coital or sexual cannibalism is common in praying mantis, which makes them cruel, emotionless, and scary because they do not have any affection for their mates.

Their foremost priority is to ensure their survival by eating food; otherwise, hunger can make them die over time. Accordingly, they do not lose an opportunity to kill their mating partners.

This cannibalistic behavior is mainly seen when the female praying mantis is hungry and lethargic. She attracts male mates by releasing pheromones and deceives them.

Moreover, their partners decapitate these males by grabbing their heads with mandibles and pulling them off their bodies after chewing.

The male mantis bodies provide essential nutrients to the females, and these amino acids increase the egg production rate.

Therefore, it is so scary to see female praying mantis killing their male mating partners by decapitating them for nutrition without showing sympathy towards them.

Devour living prey

You can estimate the cruel nature of praying mantis with the fact that they do not eat dead insects and prefer to devour living insects and smaller animals.

They are vicious carnivores and eat smaller creatures moving on the ground or flying in the air. They attack caterpillars, flies, crickets, moths, beetles, etc., whenever they get a chance.

Moreover, it seems so scary to see them brutally killing other insects by capturing their bodies from the head and abdomen.

One of my friends told me a story of these vicious predators, and he was scared while telling me that a cricket in a window was captured and devoured by a mantis in a few minutes.

Eat their babies or siblings

Praying mantis are cold-hearted and merciless insects because they do not show any mercy for their babies and eat young nymphs when there is no food available to them.

Their scary and carnivorous nature makes them deadly predators, so the immature adults or nymphs are usually removed and put in a separate cage.

In addition, it is not possible to even imagine eating the siblings, but these cruel insects attack their siblings when all the nymphs are living together in the same place.

Accordingly, it is better to separate the immature nymphs to avoid massive killing because they are not social insects and prefer to live in a solitary environment. It is common for these insects to eat their babies.

Menacing claws to grasp prey

Praying mantis possess raptorial forelegs or menacing claws that allow them to grab the prey animals with a better grip. The spiked legs allow insects to pinch the skin and hold them tightly.

Accordingly, their strikes can hurt the prey animal and do not allow them to move back and forth because these spikes can cause severe injuries if they try to escape.

This strong grip favors decapitation as they can easily focus on eating their bodies using mandibles. They start eating prey from the head to kill and enjoy eating the remaining bodies.

So, their menacing claws make them scary to opponents or prey animals. They can protect themselves by attaining praying positions and exposing spiked legs that create fear in predators.

Able to pinch the skin

Wild praying mantis commonly prefer to remain away from humans as they are scared of the bigger creatures, but those living in captivity develop affection for humans over time.

Sometimes, they can scare humans by biting their fingers as their mandibles can hold the skin and pull it outwards, resulting in mild pain.  

Their smaller mouth can leave a wider cut and break human skin because they can move their jaws sideways, which is quite helpful in tearing up the prey’s body.

So, your negative experiences can make you feel scared of these tiny creatures; otherwise, it rarely happens that they pinch the skin.