Like all great assassins, praying mantises are patient. Many species sit completely still, waiting until edible creatures comes within reach. Then they pounce, holding prey in a death grip with their spiked forelegs. Although they mostly hunt other insects, they can also eat birds. A new scientific review shows that mantises have been observed targeting birds all around the world, in every continent except Antarctica.
The paper, published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, compiles 147 confirmed incidents of mantis-bird predation in 13 countries on six continents. In all, 12 different types of mantises have been seen eating 24 types of birds, mostly hummingbirds.
“The fact that eating of birds by praying mantises is so widespread, both taxonomically as well as geographically speaking, is a spectacular discovery,” says paper first author Martin Nyffeler, a zoologist at the University of Basel.
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