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The Mantis Man of the Musconetcong River

Darcie spends her free time going down research rabbit holes and occasionally writing down what she finds.

Could there be a man who looks like a praying mantis wandering New Jersey?

Could there be a man who looks like a praying mantis wandering New Jersey?

Who Is the Mantis Man?

Fishermen frequenting the Musconetcong River near Hackettstown, New Jersey might need to be on the lookout for a large creature that has been spotted numerous times in the area. According to eyewitnesses, he's roughly seven feet tall and resembles a praying mantis. It is probably no surprise that this creature has been given the name "Mantis Man."

The First Sighting

Much of what is known about the Mantis Man comes from reports of sightings sent to Lon Strickler of Phantoms and Monsters. In a post from July 26, 2011, Strickler published a sighting sent to him by a witness now known to be a man named Paul Jacks—thanks to Jacks’s appearance on an episode of Monsters and Mysteries in America in which he retold the story.

Of the creature’s appearance, Jacks said, “Triangular Head. Huge, slanted black eyes. Just like a Praying Mantis. Its whole body was gangly, nobby, ((Nobby!) but you could still sense it was powerful, and no—I would not say it was a "Big Bug"—it was definitely humanoid despite the mantis/insect qualities…”

Jacks also describes how he felt during his experience: “Please know, I am ‘privy to the paranormal’ and always have been. Shadow people, ghosts, whatever. But what I encountered that day was not Spirit. It was a ‘biological’, living creature. But it disappeared into thin air almost as soon as I saw it.”

He also acknowledges that after doing some digging, he found some references to similarly described creatures that had been labeled as “Mantis Aliens” which are believed to be interdimensional beings, though Jacks did not believe that the praying mantis-like creature he saw was one of them.

Jacks continues in his message to Strickler: “Again, I stress the strong impression that the Mantis Man was cloaked and I ‘caught it’ just right; it abruptly found itself against a ‘new’/blank background and was adjusting quickly. No, I do not believe it ‘slipped’ into another dimension/plane.”

Paul Jacks said that he could sense that the creature was powerful, but also that it was shocked to see him. He attributed this shock to his “whatever attitude” towards the entire encounter at the time.

The Mantis Man as shown on "Monsters and Mysteries in America"

The Mantis Man as shown on "Monsters and Mysteries in America"

Further Sightings

On December 19, 2012, Lon Strickler posted an update detailing how he came across a post on the Hackettstown Life forum and then later received messages from people who had known or met the person the post described. Thanks again to Monsters and Mysteries in America, it’s now known that the witness described in this post was Joe Parenti. Parenti did not make the post in question and had not contacted Strickler at this point, but the friend of Parenti who made the original post wrote into Phantoms and Monsters in order to confirm their belief in the account.

According to one friend of Parenti’s who contacted Strickler, “As always, people believe what they want to believe and I'm still not quite sure if I really believe this, but just to reiterate this friend of mine was downright spooked, and the fact that he admitted the embarrassing fact that he wet himself upon seeing this and all the tears mixed into yesterday's tale, he must've seen something, whatever it was.”

Strickler would continue to receive messages from people who believed they had had encounters with the Mantis Man. In a post from August 19, 2013, a witness described a childhood memory that they had assumed was a dream before seeing the posts on Phantoms and Monsters. The witness said they were on a sidewalk in a location near the other sightings, surrounded by three beings similar in appearance to the Mantis Man. These beings suddenly disappeared and the witness “felt a warm assurance of friendship.” Sometime later, their mother picked them up “in a panic.”

Another noteworthy message posted on August 9, 2014, came from a person who believed they had made contact with these creatures all the way back in 1987. This witness adds a new element to these encounters, explaining that “they communicated through some manner whereby they connected to the inside of my head through the brain behind both ears.”

The witness continues: “I got the distinct impression that they were cold and insect-like, logical with very little in the way of emotion or compassion which frightened me the most. The other impression I got from this was that they believed themselves to be our superiors like we believe about animals in our world. Whatever they were deciding it was based on this belief, in other words for our own good or the greater picture.”


Very little is known about the Mantis Man other than that it resembles a large praying mantis, so it is not surprising that all the theories that are typically thrown around when it comes to mysterious creatures have been applied to the Mantis Man. Some think it’s an experiment gone wrong or a bizarre and extreme mutation, while others think it could be an alien or an interdimensional being. One witness reported on by Lon Strickler thought they might even be guardian angels.

Overall, accounts of reported sightings and detailed descriptions of the creature are relatively scarce. However, as Lee Duigon writes, “the few eyewitness accounts of Mantis Man, tendered by persons who probably don’t know each other, seem to agree as to the details and a general sense of terror.” Of course, consistency between accounts doesn’t necessarily mean there is actually a mantis-like creature wandering around Hackettstown.

As Brent Swancer writes on Mysterious Universe, “It seems unlikely that there is a real, Bigfoot-sized praying mantis that has been lurking in New Jersey undiscovered, so we are probably dealing with either a hoax or something very odd indeed, perhaps something inter-dimensional in nature or even an alien according to some.”

Whether it is a hoax or something more sinister, fishermen along the Musconetcong River might do well to keep a wary eye out.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.