|RT | Jul 10, 2017|
|© Mike Hutchings / Reuters|
The carnivorous creatures usually eat insects, spiders and sometimes frogs and snakes to feed their voracious appetites. However, research published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology now shows the prolific killers also have a taste for birds.
The researchers gathered and documented numerous examples of bird-eating mantises. Amazingly the behavior was seen everywhere mantises were found.
The spindly-legged insect also isn’t particularly selective regarding the kind of bird it chows down on – as 24 different species were identified as victims.
“The fact that eating of birds is so widespread in praying mantises, both taxonomically as well as geographically speaking, is a spectacular discovery,”said the lead author of the study Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel.
The researchers pored over 147 documented cases of mantis-on-bird predation in their detailed analysis. They found that nearly 70 percent of incidents were reported in North America, with hummingbirds making up the vast majority of the victims.
The study also notes that the mantises often ensnare their featured prey by lingering opportunistically at birdfeeders in gardens, and then pouncing with their powerful legs.
Interestingly, all of the bird-killing mantises were found to be female. Females mantises are also known to engage in the sexual cannibalism of their male counterparts. Bizarrely, the study noted two incidents where female mantises were observed eating a bird while also mating with a male.
Decades ago, several species of large mantises were released across North America as pest control agents. The researchers of the new mantis study say these species now pose a threat to small birds and suggested caution in using them for insect pest control.