Many people ask me: “Does a praying mantis bite?” or “Can a praying mantis bite me?”. Well, it can, but it likely won’t happen.
A praying mantis will bit only when:
- It’s big enough to bite you, a mantis that is shorter than 2 inches won’t be able to bite you.
- It thinks your finger is a prey
A praying mantis does not bite to defend itself against people. If it shows that it feels threatened by assuming a defense posture (called deimatic display behavior) you should leave it alone to calm down.
It once happened to me that my mantis bit me. I had been away for the weekend and came back home to my mantises. It had been a bit warm that weekend and the mantises were thirsty. I took out one of the mantis older nymphs and let is walk on my finger. Then it felt the moisture on my skin, it bent down to drink. Mantises do this all the time when they are thirsty and they will not bite. But this time for some reason it saw my finger as a prey item and quickly used its front arms to catch my finger. The spikes on the arms hurt a bit, but immediately it also started to bring its head to my finger to take a bite! Ai, that hurts! I waved my hand up and down until the mantis lost grip and landed somewhere on the floor.
I think only the large mantis species that tackle big prey could possibly bite, for example the Giant Asian Mantis, African Mantis or European Mantis. The species that are smaller or eat mostly flies are not willing to attack a large prey like a human finger.
Do you want to read more about keeping a mantis as a pet? Read Caring for a Mantis. Do you want to know all the different species of mantis? Use the menu on your right!