Insects, depending on the species, are always defending against predators, or hunting prey, or maybe a bit of both. Some insects that lack predatory tendencies, such as stick insects, have evolved an exterior appearance that allows them to blend in with their surroundings. These types of insects avoid predators by hiding, as opposed to defending themselves physically. In addition to stick insects, praying mantises have evolved to blend in with surrounding foliage. Unlike stick insects, praying mantises are brutal predators. It has long been known that praying mantises eat a variety of insects and spiders. However, researchers have recently confirmed that praying mantises all over the world also eat birds. After weeks of careful observation, researchers found that praying mantises have a particular taste for bird brains. This excessively brutal predatory behavior comes as a surprise to researchers who had assumed that bird-eating mantises were far more rare than the recent study suggests.
Researchers from Switzerland and the United States have found that praying mantises eat birds on all continents, except for Antarctica. Upon finding a tasty-looking bird, a mantis will pierce its skull and brain tissue in order to access the brain. One of the researchers claimed that mantises will hold their bird prey while slowly consuming the entirely of their bodies. Many scientists have heard tales about mantises consuming birds, but few have witnessed such macabre behavior. The fact that this predatory behavior is demonstrated by several mantis species from all over the world came as a shock to all scientists concerned with insects and/or bird species.
The study’s researchers, in order to learn of the extent of bird-eating behavior among mantis species, searched numerous published studies, academic papers and even social media posts. They found a total of 147 documented cases of mantises eating birds. These cases spanned thirteen countries. Hummingbirds, specifically the ruby-throated variety, seemed to be a favorite among all mantis species. Although it is clear that mantises have a particular liking for bird brains, researchers have much to learn about how mantises consume such large and hard-to-catch meals.
Do you think that mantids could be effective at controlling invasive bird populations?