The European species comes in a variety of colors ranging from bright green to dark brown. Like all mantises, or mantids, the female is larger than the male, especially at the abdomen where eggs are made. They are hefty insects and females are unlikely to fly as their light wings are not able to hold their weight very well. Females use their wings to scare off would-be predators by flaring them open while raising their 'arms'. The pose startles some predators, sparing the mantis. Males can and do fly. After mating, females have been known to eat the male they reproduced with.
European Mantises prefer a diet of insects and operate during the day. They make great "garden enforcers" because of their insect diet. For this very reason they were introduced into America by early gardeners. European Mantises have voracious appetites and can keep pest insect populations under control, limiting the damage they do to plants and flowers.
Observing a Praying Mantis is a special thing, but leave it in its natural habitat where it can hunt all day long. Trying to capture and keep mantises as 'pets' only results in cruelly starving them to death. Unlike humans that eat 'three square meals' a day, mantises eat non-stop all day long. Humans cannot possibly feed them as often as they would need. Mantises do not 'look' hungry, but they always are.