The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids. Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong.
By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long “neck,” or elongated thorax. Mantids can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them.
Typically green or brown and well camouflaged on the plants among which they live, mantis lie in ambush or patiently stalk their quarry. They use their front legs to snare their prey with reflexes so quick that they are difficult to see with the naked eye. Their legs are further equipped with spikes for snaring prey and pinning it in place.
Moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects are usually the unfortunate recipients of unwanted mantid attention. However, the insects will also eat others of their own kind. The most famous example of this is the notorious mating behavior of the adult female, who sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behavior seems not to deter males from reproduction.
Females regularly lay hundreds of eggs in a small case, and nymphs hatch looking much like tiny versions of their parents.
Source: National Geographic
The praying mantis is the oldest symbol of God: the African Bushman’s manifestation of God come to Earth, “the voice of the infinite in the small,” a divine messenger. When one is seen diviners try to determine the current message. In this culture they are also associated with restoring life into the dead. “Mantis” is the Greek word for “prophet” or “seer,” a being with spiritual or mystical powers.
The Crazy Crone said:
I can actually confirm that the praying mantis now reaches the eastern seaboard of Australia as I photographed one on our latticework when we lived close to the Pacific Ocean north of Sydney. Just a bit of useless information! The one I photographed made me jump as I was standing close to it and suddenly realised it was there as it was so well camouflaged.
Brigid Jackson said:
Wow Crazy, that is really good news. I know when they move suddenly they can give you a fright 🙂
I never knew they were carnivores…..I thought they were cute!
Fascinating insects, thanks for the post! We have the preying mantis in the US, it is native to the US. We also have a chinese preying pantis that was introduced to the US in the 1860s.
Brigid Jackson said:
thank you too 🙂 They are very sacred here to the San people. Good to hear you have mantis’s too 🙂 *Brigid