Chinese Mantis (Tenodera Sinensis)

The Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) is a species of praying mantis. Originating from China, they were first introduced to North America around 1895 as a source of pest control. Since then, the species has spread throughout much of southern New England, and the Northeast United States, and ootheca can be purchased from plant nurseries nationwide. The Chinese mantis looks like a long and slender praying mantis, with different shades of brown. Chinese mantises can reach 5 inches long and range from pale green to tan—usually tan, with a green line running down the side (the edges of the forewings). The head is triangular and swivels, so the mantis can track prey without otherwise moving. Mantises perch atop tall plants or other areas with a view, waiting to snatch any insect that flies or crawls past.

Their color can vary from overall green to brown with a green lateral stripe on the edge of the front wings. In low light the eyes of the mantis appear black, but in daylight appear to be clear, matching the color of the head.

Similar species: The European mantis (Mantis religiosa) is another non-native mantis introduced to America; it grows to about 3 inches, and its color ranges from tan to bright green. It is best distinguished by a round black spot on the inner surface of its big front legs (the inside of its “upper arms”), but it can be hard to see when their arms are held together. The Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) is native to the southern United States; it is smaller, only reaching about 2 1/2 inches. It is dusty gray, tan or green, and the wings extend only three-fourths of the way down the abdomen in adult females.

Their diet consists primarily of other insects, though adult females can sometimes take down small vertebrate prey such as reptiles and amphibians (some have also been documented preying on hummingbirds). Like some other mantids, they are known to be cannibalistic. The female can produce several spherical ootheca roughly the size of a table tennis ball, containing up to 200 eggs. The ootheca are often affixed to vegetation such as bushes and small trees, as seen in the image below.

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