praying mantis
Photo: Joe Kazimierczyk
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Praying Mantis

Your yard is crawling with insects—but not everything that buzzes, creeps, or wriggles is there to decimate your begonias. For every aphid ready to nosh on your flowers, there are predator bugs ready to feast on the nibblers themselves. Other insects serve as pollinators. Even the lowly earthworm enriches and aerates soil. So nix nuking the bad bugs with chemicals and encourage these beneficial insects to take up residence in your yard. Then let nature take its course.

Named for the "praying" position its long and lanky front legs assume, this voracious, sticklike insect will eat just about any living thing it can fit in its mouth, helpful or not. It is known to consume mosquitoes, nocturnal moths, bees, beetles, small lizards, even frogs—as well as fellow praying mantises.
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