One of Iowa's largest and most recognizable insects is the Praying Mantis. Contrary to their predatory nature and creepy appearance, the Praying Mantis is actually beneficial to the garden, and according to Entomologist Donald Lewis, they can't really hurt you.
"I was just checking to see how strong the grip was on the Praying Mantis' front legs, and got my fingertip into the jaw part of where the two pieces of the leg come together, and the spines actually broke the skin," Lewis says. "They're quite strong, and the spines are quite sharp. Whether there was a lasting effect, I lost a drop of blood for the benefit of scientific discovery, but it was no big deal."
On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Donald Lewis and Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron about the Praying Mantis' effect on the garden and its life cycle, and they also take questions from listeners.