A praying mantis, or praying mantid, is a kind of insect, of the family Mantidae (order Mantodea), named for their "prayer-like" stance. (The word mantis in Greek means prophet.) There are approximately 2,000 species world-wide; most are tropical or subtropical. There are three species of praying mantises that are common to North America: the European mantis (Mantis religiosa), the Chinese mantis (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis), and the Carolina mantis (Stagomantis carolina). The English and Chinese species were introduced to the United States around the 1900s as garden predators hoping to control the pest populations.













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Mantids are notable for their large size and nimble reflexes. Their diet usually consists of living insects, including flies and aphids; larger species have been known to prey on small lizards, frogs, birds and even rodents. A mantid's prey is caught and held securely with its grasping forelegs. Mantids make use of protective colouration to blend in with the foliage, both to avoid predators themselves, and to better snare their victims. Mantids are also known to be cannibals. They are not only known to eat other insects, but also other mantids, sometimes even their mating partners (though the frequency of this is often overstated). During the mating season, which typically begins in autumn, male mantids are cautious when approaching female mantids. The male usually approaches from behind and hangs onto the female's back with his front legs. He then deposits and stores sperm cells into a special chamber in the female abdomen. The danger may occur during the mating process or afterwards where the female mantis devours her male mate, sometimes starting by biting off his head.

Images 1 & 2 Are From The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Images 3 Through 5 Are From The N.O.A.A.
Image Number 6 Is From The US Fish & Wildlife Service



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