Facts about praying mantis
More than 1,800 insect species belong to the mantidae family. Among these is a smaller group known as “Mantis religiosa”. Many times, all variations of mantids are usually called with this name, but in reality the name only refers to a small group of insects. Despite the difference in names, praying mantises of all types share similar characteristics and behaviors.
The praying mantises are so called because of their prominent front legs that look like a person praying. In addition to these exceptional legs, all the praying mantises have long necks and triangular heads capable of turning 180 degrees. This insect usually green or brown, camouflages well when hunting. Depending on age and species, praying mantises vary in length from 0.5 to 6 inches (1.25 to 15.25 cm). Some species of praying mantises have wings.
All the praying mantises are carnivorous. This means that they eat mainly other insects, usually grasshoppers, moths and crickets. Some larger species are able to eat lizards, frogs and small birds. Praying mantises are often popular with gardeners and farmers, since their carnivorous nature causes pests to eat.
The mating process of the praying mantises exhibits the extremely carnivorous nature of the insect. Many times, even during or directly after mating, the female eats the male. Once mating is over, the female will lay hundreds of eggs in a foamy substance that becomes a hard container. After fully developing, these eggs are broken into nymphs that look a lot like adult mantises.
During the hunting process, the ability of the praying mantis to grab with its front legs is usually very quick for the human eye. Despite its carnivorous nature, bats, frogs, birds and rodents are some of the natural enemies of this insect. The praying mantis is a close relative of the cockroach.