Carnivorous praying mantis put to work in the Shuswap and Okanagan

Insects introduced to the region in the 1930s to control grasshoppers eating crops

A recent video by a West Kelowna resident of a praying mantis fighting a black widow revealed a couple of things: the praying mantis is a fierce little carnivore and they can be found in the Okanagan.

The praying mantis, or mantis religiosa, is also seen from time to time in the Shuswap.

According to the Royal BC Museum, the insect was introduced to the Okanagan and Shuswap regions in 1937 and 1938 by federal entomologists in an attempt to control a grasshopper population that was consuming agricultural crops.

Mantids largely disappeared from the region soon after, though in the 1970s a small population was found in the south Okanagan.

In the last decade, the praying mantis is reported to have spread to Kamloops and into the Kootenays.

The Royal BC Museum notes identifying characteristics of a praying mantis include a long, slender neck, spiny front legs and prominent compound eyes. Adults grow from 47 to 56 millimeters in length.

Read more: VIDEO: Praying mantis fights black widow in epic West Kelowna battle

Read more: What the heck is this? Smiling spider-crab-thing outside Okanagan home

Read more: Giant beetle a curious find on the shores of Shuswap Lake


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