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Debbie Hadley

True or False: It's Illegal to Kill a Praying Mantis

By February 12, 2008

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Praying mantis eating aphids.
Praying mantis eating aphids. Photo Debbie Hadley, WILD Jersey

Common knowledge, right? It's illegal to kill a praying mantis. Turns out that's an urban legend and completely false. It has never been illegal to kill a praying mantis in any U.S. state, nor is there any federal protection for mantids. No species of mantid is listed as threatened or endangered in the U.S. There are no fines for killing them.

That said, why would you want to harm one of these fascinating insects? Many gardeners consider them a beneficial insect, since they consume many of the pests afflicting our veggies. Two mantids are listed as official state insects: the European mantis in Connecticut, and the Carolina mantis in South Carolina.


February 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm
(1) Sallie says:

Great picture of a mantis! Let people think it’s illegal.

March 2, 2008 at 5:41 am
(2) wayne says:

my father told me this when I was a boy. I suspect his father told him the same thing. this is probably the most useful ‘false’ rumor out there. let’s keep it going. : )

November 30, 2009 at 7:28 am
(3) Gundoscwn says:

Aloha! tut

March 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm
(4) Lucy says:

Please let me know where can I find SC matis?

September 6, 2010 at 6:19 pm
(5) Dwayne says:

I ate one and it was delicious!

July 26, 2011 at 10:22 pm
(6) craig says:

Growing up in Brooklyn in the 50′s the story was that the Mantis was protected by Fed law and if you killed one you would go away for centuries

August 31, 2011 at 1:37 am
(7) Candace P says:

I grew up on Long Island New York in the 70′s and there was a sign in our neighborhood posted by the city that said there was a $10,000 fine for killing a praying mantis. Don’t know where you got your facts from, but I can tell you it was the law then.

September 7, 2011 at 10:43 am
(8) Michelle says:

I grew up on Long Island and was always told these creatures are protected. ?

May 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm
(9) jill says:

Also, grew up on long island, my father said it was illegal to kill a praying mantis.

He has stories from when he was growing up and how he brought a praying mantis egg sac to school in his brothers locker and they hatched thousands over the weekend all over the school and they werent allowed to kill them so they had to catch or chase out each one.

August 17, 2012 at 11:45 pm
(10) ROSE says:

My mother told me this as a child. There was a Sheriff that lived next door to us that said there was a five dollar fine for that. If it is not true, I wish it were.

September 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm
(11) Crissi says:

They were indeed a protected species at one time. I had those little science cards and it listed the praying mantis as a protected species then, probably 30 years ago, but they were. So no, not completely false.

October 25, 2012 at 9:11 pm
(12) James says:

well this is great and all but i have an insect collection project so i have to kill them anyway

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