"I do destroy men on a weekly basis. It's like a hobby. I'm like a praying mantis."
The praying mantis is one of the most famous families inside the mantis order.
Praying mantises obtained their name from the posture they are often making when they want to scare off predators or also for mating purposes, since this posture looks like praying to many people.
In this article, several important facts regarding praying mantises are listed.
There are over 2400 discovered mantis species around the world. However, there could be a variety of mantis species still undiscovered in tropical regions of our planet. Maybe not all species have been discovered yet due to their sophisticated disguise ability. 😉
There are around 430 mantis genera and 15 mantis families on our planet. However, the praying mantis family, often also referred to as mantids, is the largest family among mantises.
Praying mantises vary in size. Although some of them might be quite small, there are also some which are as big as a human finger. However, the average size of a grownup mantid is around 2 inches.
Male mantises should be aware that they are always at danger, even during the copulation act. Female mantises often eat their partner during sex, which may give them a quite pleasant but also not so pleasant end to their life. 😉
Praying mantids often act in postures that reminds humans about praying. Thus, the name “praying” mantis can also be referred to this gesture.
Praying mantises also have a quite good visual ability. They have stereo vision and can see nature around them in 3-D, which often gives them an advantage when it comes to catching prey animals or to escape predators.
Although mantises seem quite scary for many people, they actually have many predators which they have to watch out for. For instance, they have to be aware of bigger snakes or other reptiles. However, praying mantises are predators themselves and hunt for insects or all sorts.
Mantids do have quite sharp forelegs, with which they take down their prey animals in incredible quick moves. If mantids lose their forelegs in fights, they usually die from starvation since they are no longer able to catch prey anymore.
Due to their posture, our ancestors have attributed supernatural powers to mantids. This is well documented in human history. For instance, the ancient Greeks treated mantids as almost god-like creatures.
In our current society, praying mantises are sometimes even kept as pets. Although they look scary from time to time, they are actually also quite interesting and people like to have alternative lifestyles, which also includes alternative pets.
However, in some primitive cultures, mantids are also eaten on a regular basis in order to ensure the food supply of local people. Since they are insects, they contain high amounts of proteins, which can be quite healthy for our bodies and prevent mineral deficiency symptoms.
Some theories suggest that many martial art techniques might have their origin in the movements of attacking praying mantises. Mantises attack in a quite fast and technically sophisticated manner. Thus, it is possible that humans took this as a prototype to develop their own fighting techniques.
Mantises have the ability to detect echolocation signals. This makes them able to protect against bats since they often can detect them before bats are able to attack and therefore mantises are able to escape these attacks on a regular basis.
Praying mantids often do not actively approach their prey. They rather stand still and are waiting for the right time to attack. They take their time, wait until their prey is close enough, and then attack with lightning speed so that the prey often does not have a chance to escape. Due to their ability to perfectly disguise, the prey is often not able to notice the danger that is waiting for them.
Mantids can be quite useful animals in the sense that they eat all kinds of insects, including harmful pests. Thus, the population of these harmful pests can be reduced, which keeps the whole ecosystem healthy and balanced.
Many people may not know it, but praying mantises are also able to fly. However, not all mantis species are able to do so. The flying ability depends on the family and sometimes even on the gender of mantids.
Although they may seem to be quite slow at the first glance, one they attack, praying mantises can be quite fast and you will not even be able to see the attack with your eyes due to the speed that is involved. Thus, never underestimate a praying mantis, especially if you try to trap it.
Mantids are masters of disguise. They are often able to perfectly fit into their surroundings. For instance, praying mantises often look like leaves or wood sticks. This makes it quite easy for them to catch their prey, since prey animals will often not be able to see them. Moreover, also predators will have a hard time finding these mantids, which gives these mantises also protection in this regard. However, if the leave escapes, you can be pretty sure that it was not actually a leave 😉.
Mantids commonly have a quite sharp vision, which makes it possible for them to attack their prey in an effective manner. They are also pretty good in determining the correct moment when it is time to attack.
Praying mantises often do not go for dead insects, but rather for living ones. They like their prey to be moving and refrain from eating insects that are already dead since it is not in their inner nature to do so.
Praying mantises not only go for small insects as prey, they sometimes also try to take down small snakes or small birds. Thus, they can be considered to be quite brave since they often take on the challenge to take down animals with higher body weight and size compared to themselves.
However, when we take a realistic look at the mantid species, we will soon realize that although they may look weird and intimidating, mantids are at the rather low end of the food chain and therefore have many predators to watch out for.
Praying mantids have two eyes, but only one ear. This makes them an oddity of some sort since this cannot be regarded in nature too often.
Although praying mantises can be beneficial for hunting and taking down pests and other insects that might be harmful to the ecological system, they also attack beneficial insects like bees. Thus, mantids can also hurt the local ecosystem if their population becomes too big in numbers.
Although they are not looking like that, mantids are closely related to cockroaches and also to termites. However, there is no peace between those species. They even fight against each other and considered each other as prey from time to time, depending on the geographic region.
Most of the mantid species have their origin in the tropics. Until today, most of the mantid species can be found in the tropical rainforests around the world, while only a few are located outside these tropic areas.
Praying mantids have the ability to turn their head in a 180 degrees angle around their neck. Thus, this makes it possible for them to attack in an unpredictable way since their prey cannot be safe even if the mantid turned its back to them.
Mantids are able to overwinter using the so-called ootheca, which is an egg-like cocoon which protects them against the cold and also against predators.
Mantids have a triangle head, which looks quite odd, especially in combination with the relatively big eyes. Thus, this weird appearance may confuse many predators, which may refrain from attacking those mantids due to their weird looks.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master's degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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