By Matt Olson
Union College’s Facilities Services annually releases Praying Mantises across campus as a way to lower the number of grass-killing pests on the campus. As Grounds Manager Thomas Heisinger describes it, the Praying Mantis feed on smaller insects and pests at younger ages, and when they reach maturity, feed on larger insects such as grasshoppers. The insects are an easier way for the Grounds crew on campus to maintain a relatively insect-free environment on campus.
Praying Mantis can be terrifying insects if seen in the open; the insect can grow as long as four inches. They can range in color, but the most common Mantis are either bright green or a woody brown, thus making them camoflouged in the grass or trees. The size of the insect can cause a lot of fright in people, but the benefits of using these insects can outweigh the terror associated with them.
The Mantis act as an organic pest control—they weed out unnecessary animals and insects from gardens and landscapes without using harsh chemicals. However, the Mantis does not have a filter on its diet; if a Mantis finds an insect, it will more than likely eat it—regardless of whether the animal is beneficial or not.
The Mantis have large appetites, so only a few hundred of these insects on campus can weed out many types of harmful pests from the gardens and trees.
The variety of animals and insects on this campus all serve a certain purpose, and without a particular one, the envrionment would be drastically altered. The Praying Mantis is just a piece of the campus ecosystem, looking to weed out unecessary animals who may do harm and disrupt the area.
So the next time you see a large insect flying at you, don’t jump to a negative conclusion; these Praying Mantis keep Union College virtually insect-free, and they help keep our historic campus looking beautiful. Without them, the scenery of Union College can be drastically different.