In temperate regions of the world most praying mantis die in the fall as temperatures start to drop.
Praying mantis are affected by two different environmental elements that happen at around the same time. Firstly, appreciate that praying mantis are cold-blooded. This means that they rely on warmth from the environment if they are to hunt, grow, digest their food and more. Falling temperatures mean that the praying mantis becomes less active, hunts less, until eventually it dies.
The second worrying situation is that levels of the prey that praying mantis feed on also start to drop in the fall. As the weather gets cold, most plants finish flowering, meaning less food for flies, moths and more. Sadly, when these prey items die, so too do the mantids that rely on them for survival.
These two elements mean that most praying mantis will die when the weather starts to get cold. Of course, it is impossible to provide an exact date as this will vary each year. In years with an unseasonably warm fall some adults may survive well into November or December. In other years where the temperature falls far sooner you may struggle to find a live mantis by October.
What is the Average Lifespan of a Praying Mantis?
In temperate regions praying mantis typically hatch from their eggs in early spring as the weather starts to warm up. They then die in the fall. As a result most praying mantis live for significantly less than a year.
In the wild praying mantis the average lifespan of a praying mantis is around 6 months.
In captivity, however, things can be rather different. The provision of supplementary heat and food means that pet praying mantis can live considerably longer. That said, even a pet praying mantis is unlikely to live for much longer than a year, irrespective of the quality of care.
Do Praying Mantis Die in the Winter?
Some praying mantis may manage to survive longer than others in the fall. For example, a praying mantis that has found a cosy place to stay warm – such as hiding in a wood shed or on a south-facing garden wall – may end up surviving some weeks longer than usual.
Even these praying mantis will succumb as the temperatures drop further, even if this is simply down to a lack of food about.
Most praying mantis will indeed die in the winter – if not before.
However there will always be a few mantis that buck this trend and manage to survive through to the next spring, though they will typically look quite ragged and old by this point.
Do Praying Mantis Die After Laying Eggs?
Praying mantis don’t die after laying eggs specifically. Most praying mantis in temperate countries reach maturity in the early summer. Each female will then mate with one or more males before being ready to lay eggs.
A female praying mantis is capable of laying multiple egg cases (oothecae) over the following weeks and months. The numbers of eggs laid will typically decline with each laying, so the oothecae get smaller and smaller over time.
A female mantis will generally keep laying eggs anything from every few days to every few weeks, until eventually she passes away.
So while a praying mantis will eventually die after laying eggs, the cause of death is falling temperatures in the fall, rather than the act of actually laying the eggs.
Do Praying Mantis Have Predators in the Wild?
Praying mantis do have a number of predators in the wild. This can affect when praying mantis die. Clearly a praying mantis that is eaten by a predator early on in it’s life simply won’t get to reach maturity and die of old age.
It is interesting to note that each praying mantis egg case (ootheca) can contain dozens, or even hundreds, or tiny baby mantids. Only a tiny fraction of these will end up reaching maturity. The rest die on the way, and one major impact is that of other predators.
Baby praying mantis can fall foul of spiders, birds, small mammals and even larger mantis. If the baby mantis survives these difficult early weeks then it will moult a number of times, growing in size, and becoming more able to defend itself.
Even then, however, a large praying mantis can make a juicy meal for any predator capable of finding them and picking them off.
Do Parasites Attack Praying Mantis?
Praying mantis parasites have not been studied extensively, but there is evidence of parasitism in praying mantis. One common example are the parasites known to affect praying mantis eggs. Some parasitic wasps will inject their own eggs into the oothecae, with the wasp larvae rapidly hatching and feeding on the developing praying mantis.
This also affects when some praying mantis die, as some perfectly fertile eggs may perish during incubation thanks to the impact of parasites.
How to Tell if a Praying Mantis is Dying
Praying mantis don’t make any noises, and so they won’t tell you if they think they’re dying. For the careful observer, however, there are a number of signs you might spot.
A praying mantis that is dying may show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Refusing food
- Moving more slowly
- Being unable to perch properly
- Looking underweight and “scrawny”
- Sitting on the ground or the floor of their tank
- Changing color, such as turning from green to brown