Praying Mantis: The Thousand Dollar Bug

praying_mantisTonight we found this praying mantis stuck between the storm windows of my son’s room. He’s still in there, trying to get out, but we aren’t sure the best way to free him. My 7 year old boy was very upset. Not because he was practically bunking down with a praying mantis for the night, but because he wanted to make sure he didn’t die. He knows they are especially good bugs, that they will be good for Mommy’s garden and that it’s illegal to kill them. He told us that if we kill it that we will get a big fine.

I was surprised to hear him say that because my husband and I never told him this, but I knew I had heard it before. When I posted the picture on facebook tonight, a friend who also lives in NJ called it the “Thousand Dollar Bug”. He said that when he was a kid, it was illegal to kill a praying mantis and the fine for such a crime was $1,000.

Actually, it turns out that this is not true and is an urban legend that has been passed around since the 1950s. It’s never been illegal to kill a praying mantis in the US.