The Carolina Mantis has made its way across most of the continent, making it possible for almost every gardener to see one in person.
The Carolina Mantis is the most common mantis found across North America despite its name. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Some are very green, while others are gray or brownish. Their bodies are clearly mantis-like, exhibiting a prayerful pose with its front pair of legs. This first set of legs are substantially thicker than the rear pairs. It has a narrow thorax ('chest') and thicker abdomen. Bulbous eyes with tiny black pupils are elevated on the sides of the head. A pointed mouth looks almost like a beak. Short antennae help detect environmental information. Wings are tucked along the top of the abdomen when at rest. The hefty Carolina Mantis can fly. The females of the species have a wider abdomen than their male counterparts and are generally larger overall. Carolina Mantis females have been known to eat the male even while in the process of mating.
The Carolina Mantis is a gardener's best friend. It consumes a huge quantity of pest insects that could otherwise damage or destroy flowers and produce. Adults sit on flowers, garden plants and shrubs, waiting for insect prey to come along. They use their front legs to help secure an insect and their sharp mouthparts to eat it. Mantis eggs can be purchased online before summer so gardeners can hatch a population of them locally. Eggs are thin discs and a female usually lays them in groups on twigs or branches. A mother covers her eggs with a foam believed to seal in moisture so the eggs do not dry out. Small nymphs hatch in the spring and early summer. While some people have captured them and kept them as pets, Carolina Mantises have an important ecological role in the garden ecosystem. If caught, admire the insect and release it the same day to allow it to play its important part in keeping pest insects under control.
Scientific Name: Stagmomantis carolina
Other Name(s): Praying Mantis
Size (Adult; Length): 48mm to 60mm (1.87in to 2.34in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.