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Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Praying Mantis.


 Updated: 9/25/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org



  Praying Mantis  
Picture of Praying-Mantis


The Praying Mantis is an incredible friend to gardeners and farmers thanks to its mammoth appetite for plant-destroying pests.





The Praying Mantis was discovered in the United States in 1899. It came from Europe likely via trade transports across the Atlantic. They are highly recognizable creatures, mainly thanks their odd shape. Their bodies are relatively large and long with four legs at the abdomen area and two larger legs that appear more like arms. They come 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 because their wings are not able to hold their weight very well. Females can use their wings to scare off would-be predators by fanning them open while raising their 'arms'. The pose startles some predators, hopefully sparing the mantis. Males can and do fly. After mating, females have been known to eat the male after reproduction, but occasionally that does not happen.

The large Praying Mantis (not 'Preying' although it does that very well) got its name from the position of its forelegs. When resting, these front legs are held in a way that makes them seem folded in prayer. Those powerful front legs are able to hold down an insect as the mantis eats it alive. The mantis' mouth parts are capable of cutting through the tough exoskeleton of their insect prey.

Females lay their flat, seed-shaped eggs on a twig in autumn. The freshly laid eggs are then coated with a hard foam that maintains moisture during dry winters and deters birds and other insects from bothering them as well. In spring, the eggs hatch and pale nymphs, shaped like miniature adults emerge and immediately begin feasting on smaller insects and sometimes each other.

Mantises are extremely beneficial in gardens. They eat a large volume of pest insects and can be a farmer/gardener's best friend by removing infestations of wasps and beetles. A Praying Mantis (or its eggs) can be purchased in the spring and released onto a plant in a garden in order to head off any pests that arrive before summer. Larger species of the Mantis family have even been known to eat frogs, lizards and sometimes even hummingbirds.


Catching a glimpse of a Praying Mantis is a special thing, but leave it where you found it (if it hasn't flown away). It does a great service for growers, so for the benefit of the ecosystem, consider just admiring them, and capture only their photograph.
Basic Information
Common Name: Praying Mantis
Other Name(s): European Mantis, Mantid
Scientific Name: Mantis religiosa
Category: Mantid


General Identification
Size (Adult; Length): 50mm to 75mm (1.95in to 2.93in)
Colorwheel Graphic
Identifying Colors: green, yellow, white, red, brown
Additional Descriptors: praying, long, stick




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mantodea
Family: Mantidae
Genus: Mantis
Species: religiosa




Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
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 below as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections below 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.
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico


Territorial Area Map (Visual Reference Guide)
The map below showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Praying Mantis may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
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State of Maine graphic
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State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
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State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


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