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Praying Mantis Mantis religiosa


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Praying Mantis, female
credit: Alvesgaspar/CCSA

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Alternate name: European Mantid

Family: Mantidae, Mantids view all from this family

Description A large mantis; color ranges from bright green to tan, wing extend beyond tip of abdomen. Large compound eyes tan to chocolate-brown. Distinguished easily by a black-ringed brown spot beneath the fore coxae (walking legs). Similar Chinese Mantis and Carolina Mantis lack brown spot.

Dimensions 2-2 1/2" (50-65 mm) length with wings

Food Primarily diurnal insects such as caterpillars, flies, butterflies, bees, and moths.

Life Cycle Most species of mantis engage in cannibalism, most frequently during mating season with the female eating the male after mating. Eggs are laid in a flat mass left to overwinter attached to exposed twigs above snow. Eggs hatch in late spring almost simultaneously and Nymphs are dispersed by wind or eat one another. 1 generation annually which matures in late summer or early autumn.

Habitat Meadows, on leaves and flowers.

Range Introduced. Found throughout Eastern US n. to Ontario. West to Pacific Northwest.

Discussion Mantises are ambush predators. They camouflage themselves and stand perfectly still, waiting for their prey to stray too near. When it does the mantis then lashes out at remarkable speed. Originating in southern Europe, the Praying Mantis was introduced to North America in 1899 in a shipment of nursery plants. It has been recognized as a beneficial predator, particularly in battling gypsy moths, whose caterpillars it preys on. Unfortunately, their populations are so cannibalistic that they rarely get large enough to have much impact on caterpillar populations. The insect has thrived in many parts of their range and now are found throughout the north-eastern United States and Canada west to the Pacific Northwest.