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preying mantis

last night around dusk I spotted a medium sized brown preying mantis on my central air-conditioner unit. suspended between the house and the unit is a spider web with a large spider on it. the mantis repeatedly went to the very edge of the air-conditioning unit and appeared to stretch way out as if to try to capture the spider. Is this normal behavior for a small/medium mantis to attack and possibly eat a large spider?

Wildlife Expert - Ken Burton

I can find no evidence that mantids normally prey on spiders at all, large or not, though I bet it happens from time to time. However, it would be more likely that a mantis would catch a moving spider than one in a web, and I would think that a small mantis would "think" twice about attacking a larger spider. I suspect the mantis you observed was considering using the web to get off the AC. By the way, it's "praying" mantis, not "preying" (the way they hold their forelimbs makes them look as if they're praying).

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