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NC State Extension

Chinese Mantid

  • Common Name: Chinese Mantid
  • General Category: Harmful Predator
  • Taxonomic Classification: Mantodea: Mantidae
  • Scientific Name: Tenodera aridifolia

Description

Mantids are captivating, almost iconic insects that are easily recognized by their specialized (raptorial) front legs which they use to grasp prey. The Chinese mantid is a common non-native species that is considered by some to be an exotic, invasive species. It has been sold commercially for decades for pest management, but appears to have little value in this regard. The two most similar, commonly encountered, mantids in the eastern U.S. are the native Carolina mantid and the non-native European mantid, that can both be easily distinguished from the Chinese mantid.

Chinese mantid adult Chinese mantid nymph

Identification

Review the images for tips on how to identify these predators.

Adults

All mantids are easily distinguished by their specialized front legs which they use to grasp prey. Adult Chinese mantids have a face plate that is more square than rectangular (as in Carolina and European mantids), their wings extend the full length of their abdomen (shorter in Carolina), the wings are green only on the front edge of the forewings (as opposed to all green in European), and they do not have a large spot on the inside of the front legs near the body (as in European) . Chinese mantids are also larger (3 to 4+ inches compared to 2 inches or less for Carolina mantids and 2 to 2.5 inches for European mantids).

Nymphs

Again, the face plate is close to square, and they do not have a leg spot.

Value in Pest Management

Chinese mantids have no demonstrated value in pest management. This is because they are ambush predators and will attack anything within reach that they can subdue, but do not actively seek out insect pests. They are non-selective and have been documented attacking beneficial insects, hummingbirds, snakes, and even small mammals. In this regard, they can be considered pests. They are sold commercially (see BIRC online Directory).

Origin and Distribution

Non-Native. Most commonly found in southern and southwestern United States.

Discover Life – Tenodera aridifolia

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