You may have heard that you could receive a fine for killing a praying mantis. Perhaps you thought such a law would be a little harsh and you’re wondering if it’s true. Is it illegal to kill a praying mantis? Is the praying mantis a protected species? What would happen if you did kill one? Great questions! We’ll explore each one in greater detail as we go through this article. Ready to get started?
What You'll Learn Today
Is the Praying Mantis a Protected Species?
Are praying mantises endangered? Back in the 1950s, a rumor got started that praying mantises were endangered and that killing one would result in a $50 fine. While it’s unclear where this rumor came from, there is no truth to it.
In some parts of the world, praying mantises do have varying degrees of local and federal protection. But in North America, praying mantises are not considered endangered, and there are no local, state, or federal laws in place to protect them.
There is some thought that gardeners originally started this rumor, suggesting that it was a figurative rather than a literal crime to kill praying mantises. After all, these apex predators of the insect world eat all kinds of pests, and many people appreciate having them around to keep bug populations at a minimum.
It’s also possible that the rumor started because, in many places throughout history, praying mantises were revered and even worshiped. They have been seen as gods, superstitious symbols of luck, and even sorcerers.
While fewer people today hold any of these beliefs, especially in the U.S., many people still have a great affinity for praying mantises. Though not a protected species and not in danger of going extinct, the rumor continues simply because people don’t want to see praying mantises killed.
What Happens if You Kill a Praying Mantis?
Strictly speaking, nothing will happen if you kill a praying mantis. You won’t have to worry about legal repercussions even if a police officer or government official sees you stepping on the insect.
That said, if you’re visiting a culture where praying mantises are worshiped, you may face backlash from some of the locals. As mentioned, praying mantises are loved in many places throughout the world, and it would be a bad idea to enter one of these regions and start squashing every praying mantis you see.
Even in the U.S., praying mantises are popular enough that you may face backlash from your own friends and neighbors. In a general sense, it isn’t as accepted if you kill a praying mantis as it might be to kill, say, a spider or a cockroach.
Praying mantises are not pest insects, and many people like them. With this in mind, it seems there is little reason to kill the next praying mantis you see crossing your path.
Check out this video of a praying mantis and its hunting skills:
Why Should You Not Kill Praying Mantises?
You may still be wondering though, what does it matter? Other than their popularity, is there any real reason why praying mantises should be left alone?
Perhaps the best reason not to kill a praying mantis is that they help control populations of other insects. Though they don’t discriminate between pests and beneficial bugs, their voracious appetites can keep other types of insects from overrunning your property.
What’s more, praying mantises are not harmful to people. They are not poisonous, and they don’t bite or inject venom; most of the time, they are untroublesome, sedentary insects that simply try to stay out of your way.
Praying mantises are smart insects that may even become your friends over time. They won’t hurt you, and they will provide a natural pest control solution in your yard.
Rather than asking why you shouldn’t kill praying mantises, perhaps the better question is: why would you want to?
It is not illegal to kill praying mantises, and they are not currently in any danger of going extinct. Anyone who suggests otherwise is simply repeating a rumor that has been around since the 1950s.
Even though it’s not illegal to kill them, the better option is to simply leave them alone. Praying mantises are beneficial insects that will not cause any harm, so there seems to be little reason to kill them.