The praying mantis is one of my favorite insects. People always spell it wrong writing “Preying” instead of “Praying”. Mantis means prophet or fortune teller. If there is more than one, they are called “Mantids”.
The praying mantis has a three- segmented body, with a head, thorax and abdomen. Adults have wings and can fly. The front legs are modified into weird grabbing things. When they approach prey, they snatch them up with these legs.
Mantids have huge compound eyes mounted on a triangular head and have a large field of vision. They use sight for detecting movement of prey and swivel their heads to bring their prey into view. They are able to swivel their heads 180 degrees as well as pivot it. Their antennae are used for smelling stuff.
Praying mantids can be found in all parts of the world with mild winters and sufficient vegetation. Praying mantids will spend most of their time in a garden, forest or other vegetated area.
Being a carnivorous insect, the mantis feeds primarily on other insects. Larger mantids can consume small reptiles and even small birds! To capture their prey, mantids use their camouflage to blend in with the surroundings and wait for the prey to be within striking distance. They then use their front legs to quickly snatch the victim and devour it.
When threatened, praying mantids stand tall and spread their forelegs to allow them to penetrate the target, with their wings fanning out wide and mouths open. They also may make a hissing sound.
When they mate, the female usually eats the male! Disgusting but cool!
The natural lifespan of a praying mantis in the wild is about 10 – 12 months. In colder areas, female mantids will die during the winter.