Do Praying Mantis Have Venom?

It is well-known that many carnivorous animals have venom. Spiders and scorpions would be two great examples. So do praying mantis have venom too?

No, praying mantis do not have venom. They do not kill their prey before eating it. Instead their prey dies only when the mantis has consumed so much that it can no longer survive.

How Do Praying Mantis Kill Their Prey?

Sadly, and somewhat inhumanely, praying mantis do not actually kill their prey between catching it and eating it. 

Once a praying mantis has caught a suitable insect, amphibian or reptile they simply hold it still and begin to bite. The poor prey item is left to writhe around in their grasp, unable to escape their unfortunate fate. 

So if praying mantis have no venom then how do they subdue their prey? The reality is that praying mantis have incredibly strong mandibles (mouth parts). These mandibles can be thought of like pliers or a tin opener – they’re able to cut through even the tough exoskeleton of other insects. 

Once the mantis has nibbled their way inside the soft innards are simple enough to consume.

Soon there will be little or no evidence of anything having been eaten, and all without the need for any venom. 

Do Praying Mantis Bite?

Praying mantis can bite if they feel threatened, but this normally only occurs if you firmly grasp a praying mantis. Understandably the mantis will feel their life is at risk, so will do anything necessary to try and escape from yo

In reality, unless you roughly grab a praying insect there is little or no chance of being bitten. 

Praying mantis certainly don’t hunt down people looking to bite them. 

Furthermore, praying mantis can normally be held perfectly safely – simply let them walk into your flat hand and you should be perfectly safe.  

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Does a Praying Mantis Bite Hurt?

Bearing in mind that praying mantis rarely if ever bite people, it is fair to say that if they *do* bite then it is likely to be uncomfortable. 

You’re unlikely to need any medical assistance – just wash it under a tap to ensure no infection sets in. 

Even if a praying mantis does bite it tends to feel like a sharp pinprick – rather like getting an injection you weren’t expecting. There isn’t even any guarantee that any blood will be drawn – depending on the size of the mantis and how thick your skin is. 

So in truth a praying mantis bite doesn’t really hurt – it’s really more the surprise that might cause people to shriek. However it is unlikely there will be any lasting damage at all.

Do Praying Mantis Attack Humans?

Praying mantis only attack other creatures for one of two reasons – either because they’re trying to catch something to eat or because they feel threatened. 

Clearly you’re too large to be food – scientific studies have shown that praying mantis are incredibly good at judging the size of prey they can catch. 

Fascinatingly, scientists exposed praying mantis to computer-generated “insects” of varying sizes to see what they actually tried to attack and the results show they ignore anything too large.

So that just leaves feeling like they’re in danger. And to do that you’ve got to really grab a praying mantis so it can’t escape. 

Most praying mantis can be gently coaxed onto a flat hand and safely held in that manner. It’s only if you literally grasp it firmly between thumb and finger that a praying mantis may try lashing out to escape.

But that’s it.

So basically it’s fair to say that praying don’t attack humans. 

It’s perfectly safe to get close to a praying mantis and even to let it walk over your hands without any danger to you whatsoever. 

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The best advice is simply to admire any praying mantis you find from a distance before letting them peacefully go about their business.

Are Praying Mantis Dangerous to Dogs?

Praying mantis are not dangerous to dogs. 

Just as with humans, a praying mantis would far rather escape from your dog’s attention. They are most likely to sit motionless in plant matter hoping to remain invisible to your dog. 

If upset or disturbed a praying mantis may attempt to fly or run away from danger. 

Even if they feel properly threatened – such as if your dog pays it too much attention – then most praying mantis will show a “threat display” before risking actually attacking. This often involves standing up tall, extending the wings (often to reveal brightly-colored eye spots) and holding up their spiky arms in the air in a threatening manner.

While these threat displays can look fearsome they don’t pose any risk to your dog.  

Richard Adams

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