The praying Mantis Insect, Manti religiosa, is found waiting for smaller insect prey on flowers and foliage. It was accidentally introduced from southern Europe into the United States in 1899. Length including wings 2.5 inches (6 cm).
Mantis Insect Facts:
- Common name: Mantids (praying mantises)
- Order: Mantodea
- Class: Insecta
- Subphylum: Hexapoda
- Number of species: About 2,000 (20 US)
- Size: From about 0.4 in (10 mm) to 6 in (15 cm)
Key features: Males normally smaller than females; head roughly triangular when seen from front eyes large and well separated; antennae thin; jaws for cutting and chewing prey; head held well away from the body on elongated first thoracic segment; front legs adapted for grasping prey forewings leathery, covering membranous hind wings; 1 pair of cerci on the end of the abdomen; nymphs resemble adults or are ant mimics, at least in the early instars
Habits: Most species sit on vegetation waiting for prey, some sit on bark, others live on the ground
Breeding: Females attract males to them-courtship follows eggs laid in a special purselike structure, the ootheca; maternal care known in some species
Diet: Predators, feeding on other insects and also spiders; occasionally take small vertebrates such as lizards
Habitat: Grassland, scrub forests, semideserts, and deserts
Distribution: Mainly tropical in distribution, with a few species in warmer temperate areas.