Can you pick up a praying mantis? How to hold it?

Praying mantises, with their captivating appearance and unique behavior, have long been a subject of fascination for nature enthusiasts. However, the question remains – can you pick up a praying mantis? In this article, we’ll explore the safety concerns and proper handling techniques, aiming to provide a comprehensive guide to interacting with these incredible insects.

how to handle a praying mantis

Can You Pick Up a Praying Mantis?

Praying mantises, despite their captivating appearance and docile behavior, are wild creatures that rely on their instincts for survival. When confronted with human interaction, they may interpret it as a potential threat and respond defensively. Understanding their behavior is essential before attempting to handle them, as it can greatly impact their well-being.

  1. Defensiveness and Awareness: Praying mantises possess an acute sense of awareness, honed through millions of years of evolution. They rely on this keen awareness to detect prey, predators, and potential threats. When a human hand approaches them, they might perceive it as a predator or an aggressive creature, triggering a defensive response.
  2. Stress and Discomfort: Improper handling can lead to stress and discomfort for praying mantises. Being picked up by their legs or pinched can cause injury, as their legs are essential for their movement, hunting, and overall balance. The stress induced by rough handling might affect their health and make them more susceptible to illnesses or injuries.
  3. Fragile Exoskeleton: Praying mantises have a delicate exoskeleton that provides them with both protection and support. Mishandling, especially applying excessive pressure on their bodies, can result in damage to their exoskeleton, making them vulnerable and less able to survive in the wild.
  4. Importance of Patience: Patience is crucial when interacting with praying mantises. Instead of reaching out abruptly, it’s better to observe them from a respectful distance and allow them to acclimate to your presence. If they choose to crawl on your hand willingly, it shows they feel relatively at ease, making it a more positive and safe interaction for both the mantis and the person.
can you pick up a praying mantis

How to handle a praying mantis?

When picking up a praying mantis, the scooping method is the most gentle and respectful way to handle them. This technique ensures minimal stress to the mantis and reduces the risk of injury. Here’s a step-by-step guide to safely pick up a praying mantis:

  1. Approach Slowly: Before attempting to pick up a mantis, approach it slowly and calmly. Abrupt movements can startle the mantis, and it might perceive you as a threat.
  2. Observe the Mantis: Take a moment to observe the mantis from a close distance. Look for signs of readiness, such as a calm and settled posture. Avoid handling a mantis that seems agitated or restless.
  3. Position Your Fingers: To scoop the mantis, gently position your fingers on either side of its body, ensuring your fingers are between the mantis and the surface it’s standing on. Be mindful not to obstruct its legs or wings.
  4. Lift Gently: Lift the mantis slowly and smoothly, applying minimal pressure. As you lift, the mantis should naturally cling to your hand due to its instinctual response to hold onto surfaces.
  5. Avoid Tapping or Cupping: Refrain from tapping the mantis’s back end or trying to cup it in your hand, as these actions may cause unnecessary distress. Remember, praying mantises are delicate creatures, and rough handling can lead to injuries or stress.
  6. Mind the Jump: Be cautious of where the mantis might jump when lifted. Ensure there are no hazardous objects or surfaces nearby that could harm the mantis during its escape.
  7. Return to Enclosure: If you need to return the mantis to its enclosure, do so gently and without forcing it. Using a stick or another tool to guide the mantis back can be helpful if it is uncooperative.

Remember, while picking up a praying mantis can be an exciting experience, it should be done sparingly and with the utmost care. Frequent handling can cause stress and disrupt their natural behaviors. Always prioritize the well-being of the mantis and observe them primarily in their natural habitat to foster a sense of appreciation and respect for these incredible insects.


Avoid handling a freshly molted praying mantis at all costs!

When these fascinating creatures molt, their exoskeletons are soft and vulnerable. To ensure their well-being, it’s essential to give them ample time — approximately 48 hours — to dry up completely and harden. Attempting to handle them before this period may lead to unintended harm or injury to your beloved pet. Patience and consideration during this crucial phase are key to maintaining a healthy and thriving praying mantis.

Is It Safe to Frequently Handle the Mantis?

While it is possible to pick up a praying mantis, it’s important to consider the frequency of handling. If done with the utmost care, occasional handling can be safe for the mantis. However, constant handling may lead to stress and interfere with their natural behaviors.

It’s crucial to remember that praying mantises thrive in specific environments, and frequent handling may not be conducive to their well-being. Ensuring proper humidity levels in their enclosure is essential, as outside humidity might not be sufficient to sustain their health.


Handling a praying mantis should be approached with patience, gentleness, and respect. The scooping method offers a safe and considerate way to interact with these captivating insects. Avoid rough handling, tapping, or cupping, as it may cause distress and harm to the mantis. Remember, their well-being is paramount, and observing them in their natural habitat is equally rewarding. By practicing responsible interaction, we can continue to appreciate the wonder of praying mantises while ensuring their health and preservation for generations to come.

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