The praying mantis is a fascinating, alien-looking insect that is often kept as a pet but can also be a pest for some people. They are cannibalistic and appear a bit creepy with their fangs clasped together as if they were praying. Their appearance might be dangerous, but the real question is to whom the praying mantis is dangerous.
A praying mantis is not dangerous for humans. They do not have any kind of poison and are not aggressive towards humans. But they are dangerous for insects, reptiles, other praying mantis, and in some cases even birds as they are prey. There are no cases in which a praying mantis attacked a human.
They may look dangerous but they really aren´t. At least not for humans.
In this article you will learn what praying mantis are and why exactly they are harmless for humans.
What Exactly is a Praying Mantis?
The praying mantis is an insect with more than 2300 species and there are still species that are being discovered.
Every species is different in size, shape, color, and behavior, they all live in different regions. But all of them have a somewhat alien appearance with triangular heads and eyes that are bulging outwards.
Their claws are folded in front of their chest and make them look like they are praying.
Many ancient civilizations considered them to have supernatural powers due to their appearance.
Praying mantis are hardy, easy to handle, and peaceful towards humans which makes them a popular pet insect.
Will Praying Mantis Attack Humans?
If we humans were either tiny like crickets or praying mantes were huge like giraffes, they would be crazy dangerous and scary insects that could dominate the world. Imagine walking through the streets and all of a sudden a huge praying mantis with crazy eyes and a wiggling tail would stare at you, waiting for its prey to come close enough to be caught.
But luckily in this world, humans are much taller than praying mantes, and therefore we are not prey to them.
As a whole, praying mantis will not attack humans. They are surprisingly docile towards humans. Even though they look dangerous they will almost never attack a human and even if they do it´s only when they are threatened and even then they can´t seriously hurt a human with their claws.
Praying mantis catches prey and immediately starts digging in. There is no venom or anything else to poison the prey, it is literally being eaten alive.
That’s also the fate of male praying mantis, that were not quick enough to escape the female after they mated.
Praying mantis are cannibalistic insects and their diet includes all kinds of insects and depending on the size of the mantis even reptiles or small birds. They do not attack, harm, or eat humans.
Is it Safe to Hold a Praying Mantis?
Praying mantis look very frightening and as such, it is no surprise that you would think twice about touching or even holding one but is it really that unsafe to hold a praying mantis?
As a whole, praying mantis are safe to hold. Praying mantis are aggressive hunters that eat their prey alive but when it comes to humans, they are surprisingly peaceful. If you offer them your hand, they will happily climb on it and stay there or walk around a bit.
Even the Giant Asian Mantis, which can grow up to 5 inches (13 cm) is safe to handle and is not aggressive in any way.
It is absolutely safe to hold a praying mantis, they won’t attack or bite. Humans even have to be careful while handling the praying mantis as it can be quite fragile.
Can a Praying Mantis Bite Me?
Not only do their two claws look terrifying but also their jaws are quite impressive. But do they actually bite humans?
As a whole, Praying mantis can bite, but they rarely bite humans and if they do, it does not do any harm. It is fairly unlikely that a praying mantis bites a human on purpose because it has simply no reason to do so. Humans are no prey for them.
They need strong jaws to be able to disassemble their prey. But they only use it to eat their food and not to attack or bite.
The bigger mantis might take a bite from a finger by mistake if it thinks that it’s an insect, but never on purpose.
The worst thing that could happen, if a really big praying mantis bites you, is a tiny wound that might bleed a little bit.
How Painful is a Praying Mantis Bite?
As a whole, a praying mantis bite is not painful at all. A praying mantis bite is harmless. A bigger mantis can potentially break the skin, but not on purpose and definitively not to attack a human. This might happen if a mantis mistakes a finger for prey and even then the pain is only very light.
The pain can vary from non-existent to very light pain similar to a scratch.
Even though their jaws look very dangerous they really aren´t.
The praying mantis is not poisonous and even the bigger types of praying mantis won´t have enough strength to seriously hurt a human.
Are you interested in keeping a praying mantis as a pet? Is that even possible? Find the answer here.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂