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Praying Mantis - Reproduction, Preying - Defense, Interaction with the environment

mantids insects legs thorax

The praying mantis (plural praying mantids) is a carnivorous insects of the order Mantoidea (or Mantodea) named for its typical stance of an upright body with the two front legs held out in a pose of prayer. The long, thick, spiny, legs and the markedly triangular head with two large compound eyes make the mantis one of the most readily identifiable of all insects. The long neck of the praying mantis is actually the prothorax, which connects the head to the thorax and supports the front legs. Two other pairs of running legs attach to either side of the thorax, as do the wings, which lie folded over the slender, elongated body. The more than 1,800 species of praying mantids, range in size from 0.4-5.9 in (1-15 cm) long and are found in most tropical and temperate climates around the world.

Most mantids are green, brown, or gray, and sit motionless on a leaf, twig, or bark, camouflaged from predators such as birds, small animals, and other insects. The tiny South African flower-dwelling mantis, Harpagomantis discolor, can change color to match the flower. Scare tactics, which provide some defense against small predators, include raising the torso while holding the formidable forelegs high and wide, and flashing the conspicuously marked wings.

Mantids in gardens help to control the number of pest insects but mantids cannot provide effective control for agricultural insect pests.



Preston-Mafham, Ken. Grasshoppers and Mantids of the World. London/Sydney: Blandford, 1990.

Marie L. Thompson


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—Colored or shaped to blend in with a particular environment (camouflage).


—Simple eyes which detect light and dark.


—Egg case.


—Egg laying duct at the end of the abdomen.


—The first of three segments of the thorax.

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over 7 years ago

A mantis visited my home yard at January 2, 2011. It looks just like a piece of a dry stick with six normal mantis legs. What family of a mantis that will be? I looked in the Wikipedia to see if I could trace a photo like it, but I did not.

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almost 8 years ago

how does a pry mantis contribut to the enviroment?

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almost 10 years ago

There seems to be some disagreement about praying mantids' ability to change color. Many internet posts and other references indicate that their coloration depents upon location, or upon the background coloration of the area where they were born.

In my back yard in southern California, I have observed the same adult praying mantis, about three inches long, in green color while hanging under a green leaf, beige color after having flown to the side of the house (color approximately matched the house), and a mottled slate-like grey-brown after having moved again to a plant whose stem (to which the mantis was clinging) was that color. This all occurred within about a two-hour period.

I have a photo of the grey-brown iteration. I have other photos of the same mantis while green and tan.

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over 10 years ago

how do the stay alive in winter

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over 11 years ago

how do they reproduce?

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over 10 years ago

what is a praying mantis? how does it breath?

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almost 8 years ago

how does a praying mantis contribute to the environment?