I found this insect that looks like a praying mantis on my plant which was infested with aphids. I sprayed neem oil and most aphids died, even one of these praying mantises did. But here in this picture is one and I want to know if it is going to eat the aphids so I can stop spraying neem and killing every bug in the process.

The insect is around 2 centimeters long.

This is in a hot and humid area in the middle east. The plant, I guess, is from the jasmime family. It produces small scented roses (hasn't flowered yet due to the aphids problem). enter image description here enter image description here


Based on the head morphology and the upper limb visible on the first picture, I would say it looks like a mantis. The length of the abdomen also confirms the same.

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The internet is also full of several non-scientific sources that seem to confirm they eat aphids. Animals will normally learn to avoid bitterness in food as it's a sign of toxicity. I haven't found a lot of information about how bitter are aphids, however mantis are sit-and-wait predators, so they will try most things that crawl their way. Judging by the following pictures (and the article linked at the end), I would say it's very likely:

mantis eating insect mantis eating gecko

Indeed, catching every prey would be a beneficial strategy because of uncertainty in encountering another prey due to a sit-and-wait strategy. By holding prey with its forelegs and gradually eating the prey by chipping away at it, the mantis has enough time to find edible parts of prey and reject unpalatable parts/prey (Reitze and Nentwig 1991).



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