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Praying Mantis



A Praying Mantis, or praying mantid, is the common name for an insect of the order Mantodea. This insect has a triangular-shaped head with a large compound eye on each side. Praying mantids are the only insect that turn from side to side in a full 180-degree angle. Their eyes are sensitive to the slightest movement up to 60 feet away. They have straight, leathery forewings and very powerful jaws used for devouring its prey. . This insect has a triangular-shaped head with a large compound eye on each side. These insects are notorious predators and their name is sometime mistakenly spelled ‘Preying Mantis’ which is incorrect. They are in fact named for the typical ‘prayer-like’ stance. There are approximately 2,000 mantid species worldwide. a praying mantis has a three segmented body, with a head, thorax and abdomen. The abdomen is elongated and covered by the wings in adults. Females have strong and large cerci (paired appendages on the rear-most segments). The first segment on their thorax, the prothorax, is elongated and from it arises the modified foreleg. The Praying Mantis has huge compound eyes mounted on a triangular head and have a large range of vision. They use sight for detecting movement of prey and swivel their heads to bring their prey into a binocular field of view. They have a fully articulated head and are able to rotate it 180 degrees as well as pivot it. Their antennae are used for smell. The primary predators of the praying mantis are frogs, bats, monkeys, larger birds, spiders and snakes. Praying mantids will also prey on each other, usually during the nymph stage and during mating and also when there is no other prey. 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. The fanning of the wings is used to make the mantis seem larger and to scare the opponent. Some species have bright colours and patterns on their hind wings and inner surfaces of their front legs for this purpose. If harassment persists, the mantis will then strike with their forelegs and attempt to pinch, bite or slash its opponent. They also may make a hissing sound. Mantids do not develop wings until the final molt. Some mantids do not develop wings at all, or may have small flightless wings. The only time mantids fly is when the adult female begins to emit pheromones which attract males for mating. Male mantids fly at night, as they seem to be attracted to artificial lights.


Nearly 2,000 species of mantids are widely distributed throughout tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate areas of the world. 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.


The reproductive process in a majority of mantis species is marked by sexual cannibalism whereby the female eats the male after mating has taken place and is an ongoing subject of research. ootheca egg mass Praying mantids start out life in an ootheca egg mass (an ootheca usually contains many eggs surrounded by a foam of protein which may then harden into a tough casing for protection). Usually laid in the fall on a small branch or twig, the egg mass then hatches in the spring to early summer as warming temperatures signal the time for birth. The natural life span of a praying mantis in the wild is about 10 – 12 months, but some mantids kept in captivity have been sustained for 14 months. In colder areas, female mantids will die during the winter. Males tend to ‘suddenly’ die about 2 to 3 weeks after mating in the fall. This is usually caused by the females urge to kill off the male once the egg pouch has been produced. Praying mantises eat insects and other invertebrates like beetles, butterflies, spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, and other mantises. They also eat vertebrates such as small tree frogs, lizards, mice and hummingbirds. These mantids can resemble flowers and can catch small, unknowing hummingbirds and other nesting birds. Most often people think mantises are pests. That is only partly true. Praying mantises are terrific pest exterminators. They keep down the population of bugs that are a threat to farming. A master of disguise, the praying mantis can be an able assistant to both farmer and gardener. Look carefully in your backyard. Perhaps that deceptive shape is a praying mantis poised for his next meal. Location - Rayagada District, State Odisha, India

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Spotted by

Odisha, India

Spotted on Oct 15, 2018
Submitted on Oct 16, 2018

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