You might be shocked to learn that a praying mantis can actually kill and consume a hummingbird. However, only large mantises up to 4 inches long are able to capture a hummingbird.
However, if a mantis is hungry and a hummingbird enters its area of interest, it will probably use its powerful forearms to attack and capture the small bird. especially if the mantis is lurking nearby the feeder on low-lying foliage.
A praying mantis can lay in wait for its next meal in your hummingbird feeder because the sweet nectar draws flying insects like bees and wasps.
How Does A Praying Mantis Catch Its Prey?
Mantises typically prefer to eat tiny insects, though they will also eat small lizards, frogs, and mice. After all, they are carnivores. Additionally, some mantises can reach lengths of 5 or 6 inches. This is actually longer than the 4-inch-long smaller hummingbirds.
But a mantis doesn’t pursue its prey. It will simply stand still for extended periods of time while waiting for something to fly by due to its ability to blend in. The mantis will fold its strong forearms and sit like it’s praying.
When suitable prey approaches, this is the best place for it to strike. A mantis sits so still and can easily blend in that hummingbirds frequently don’t notice the predator until it’s too late.
A mantis will attack with its powerful forearms, which are covered in sharp spikes. These aid in capturing its prey. In order to capture a hummingbird, a mantis has even been known to spear it through the chest.
The mantis captures its prey, consumes some of it, and then discards the unappealing parts. The blood, organs, and brain of the bird are what mantises prefer to eat, leaving the feathers, bill, bones, and feet alone. The mantis will throw these away with a forearm shake.
Why Would A Praying Mantis Prey On A Hummingbird?
Mantises prefer to eat smaller insects like bees, wasps, and spiders, as I previously mentioned. Why then would it pursue a hummingbird, which is a much larger prey item? Remember that a mantis and a hummingbird may be about the same size.
A mantis would need to be incredibly hungry in order to capture a hummingbird. particularly in light of the fact that the mantis cannot consume the entire bird. The mantis might be particularly attracted to a hummingbird because it has likely gone a long time without eating.
Mantises typically chase down swiftly moving prey, like bees and wasps. But because hummingbirds move so quickly, a hungry mantis might attack before it realizes how big its prey is.
How To Protect Hummingbirds From Praying Mantises
Praying mantises and other predators like to hide and rest on vegetation close to your hummingbird feeders. They might even sit on the feeders themselves in the hopes of catching some quick prey to eat.
Thankfully, there are some safety measures you can take. Here are some steps you can take to prevent mantises from congregating near your feeders.
- Make sure you place your feeders out in the open away from low hanging shrubs and trees. This way the mantises can’t hide in any shrubbery that may be hanging over your feeders. Plus, it gives the hummingbirds a clear view of the feeders and any dangers that may be lurking.
- Cover your feeder with a special dome or a wide bird feeder cover. This will discourage mantises from sitting on the feeder but still allow ample access for the little hummers.
- Try and keep bees, wasps and other flying insects away from your feeders. This way, these flying insects won’t attract mantises to your feeders in the first place. You can purchase bee guards to deter bees and other flying insects. Removing any yellow flowers on your feeders or painting them red will keep wasps or hornets away as well as these are attracted to the color yellow.
- Clean your feeders regularly to remove any excess sugar that is likely to attract other insects and therefore, praying mantises.
- Don’t be tempted to release mantises into your garden for insect control. Let hummingbirds and other small birds help with controlling any excess insect population instead.
- If you do see a praying mantis on your hummingbird feeder, use a stick to remove it. Place it somewhere else in the garden, far away from the feeder. These insects are actually very handy around your vegetable garden.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why is there a praying mantis on my hummingbird feeder?
Praying mantises are attracted to areas where flying insects abound. The sugary mixture in your feeder is likely to attract insect such as bees and wasps which are a favorite food for mantises.
How often do praying mantis eat hummingbird?
It’s not all that common for a praying mantis to capture and eat a hummingbird. But it can happen. Therefore, your best bet to protect the little hummers visiting your garden is to be vigilant.
What is a praying mantis’ favorite food?
Mantises prefer soft-bodied insects such as bees, caterpillars, aphids, mosquitoes, spiders and wasps.
Is it OK to hold a praying mantis?
Despite their somewhat ferocious, predatory habits, praying mantises actually make great pets. You can safely hold them and there’s no fear of them munching on your fingers.
Praying mantises do indeed kill hummingbirds and eat them. Therefore, you need to be aware and check your feeders regularly to check that there are no mantises lurking nearby.
The best defense is to place your hummingbird feeders out in the open and away from shrubs and trees. This gives the mantises less hiding places and allows the hummingbirds a clear view of the feeder.
Additionally, using a wide cover on your feeder and also bee guards will deter other flying insects from your feeders. This will, in turn, make the feeders less attractive to praying mantises.