9 Interesting Facts About Praying Mantis - Wildlife Informer (2024)

9 Interesting Facts About Praying Mantis - Wildlife Informer (1)

These fascinating creatures are not just interesting to look at – they have many unique characteristics that make them one of the most remarkable insects in the world. From their intense eyes and mysterious posture to their incredible predatory skills, praying mantises are truly impressive creatures. In this article, we’ll explore 9 amazing facts about praying mantis, also referred to as mantids, including their anatomy and behavior, as well as how they use camouflage and prey on other insects.

9 Unique Facts About Praying Mantis

1. Praying mantises have triangular-shaped heads and bulging eyes

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Praying mantises have a unique vision that has enabled them to survive in the wild for millions of years. The shape of their heads and wide eyes give them an impressive range of vision, allowing them to spot both prey and danger from far away.

They have a specialized type of vision called “binocular” vision. This means that they can see an object in three dimensions, with their eyes each having a field of view of over 180 degrees.

Not only does this provide them with depth and distance perception, but it also allows them to judge the speed and direction of a potential threat. Their vision also gives them the edge in fighting off predators, as they are able to quickly identify which direction danger is coming from and move accordingly.

Thepredatory skills of the praying mantis have allowed it to remain a successful species even in the face of often harsh environmental conditions.

2. A praying mantis has a segmented body

The segmented body of the praying mantis allows it to move quickly and efficiently. The head is used for locating prey and avoiding predators, while the thorax is responsible for movement.

The abdomen houses the internal organs and reproductive system. This segmentation also enables them to move with ease, allowing them to blend in among plants or branches in order to better ambush their prey or hide from predators.

3. The front legs of a praying mantis are adapted for catching prey

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Praying mantises have highly specialized front legs designed for catching prey. They are armed with sharp spines and powerful muscles, allowing them to capture their prey quickly and efficiently.

The praying mantis has a unique inner joint in its front leg that allows it to bend forward at an angle of nearly 180°. This provides extra reach and power, allowing the mantis to snatch its prey with ease.

The spines on the front legs also act like hooks, helping the mantis hold onto its meal until it can be eaten. The praying mantis has incredible balance due to its ability to use its native body shape and posture to stay in place while attacking prey.

4. They can rotate their heads 180 degrees

These insects are known for their ability to rotate their heads a full 180 degrees. This is an adaptation that helps the mantislocate prey and predators, as they can keep watch over a wide area without needing to move their bodies.

The praying mantis has five eyes: two large compound eyes on either side of its head, and three smaller, simple eyes called ocelli in the middle. What’s more, the praying mantis can move its head independently of its body, allowing it to watch for predators or prey from any angle.

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5. Camouflage is one of their best defenses

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The praying mantis has evolved to blend in with its environment, making it extremely difficult to spot by both predators and prey. The body and legs of the praying mantis are covered with small spines that help break up its outline and make it harder to detect.

In addition, the mantis can change its color in a subtle manner to match the surrounding vegetation more closely. This is done by altering the number of pigment cells under its exoskeleton, giving it an almost chameleon-like ability to blend in with its environment.

6. Some praying mantisesfly

The ability of a praying mantis to fly is determined by its wings; most species have two sets of wings: the front pair is strong and rigid, allowing them to take flight. The back set of wings is often much thinner and helps with steering while in the air.

Some praying mantises have wings that are used mostly for gliding, while others have wings that allow them to conduct short bursts of flight. Many species can fly up to distances of 10 meters or more in one go!

Often, it is the males that are able to fly rather than the females. Males have more muscular bodies and shorter wings, which helps with taking flight. Whether or not a mantid can fly is determined by age, species, body weight, and sex.

7. Wild populations of praying mantises only live for one year

These short-lived insects rely on breeding another generation of mantids for the continuation of their population. However, some species can live up to two years depending on environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and availability of food sources.

During the winter months, they usually enter a hibernation-like state known as diapause, which allows them to survive cold temperatures until spring returns. Because wild populations of praying mantises typically only live for one year, their numbers tend to stay relatively stable and non-problematic.

8. Female mantids exhibit sexual cannibalism

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Female mantids have a rather interesting mating behavior. In some species, the female will consume the male during or after mating. This phenomenon is known as sexual cannibalism and has been studied in over 2,000 species of insects.

Generally speaking, the female mantid will eat her partner when she is hungry and needs additional nutrition for egg production, or if the male does not provide sufficient nutrients during the mating process.

In some cases, males have even been known to perform a “mating dance” in which they present themselves as easy targets for their female partner’s meal. Despite this seemingly gruesome behavior, sexual cannibalism is considered to be beneficial, overall, to both partners, because it increases the female’s reproductive success and the male’s genetic contribution to the next generation.

9. Praying mantises are considered beneficial insects

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Mantids are considered beneficial insects in gardens and farms, as they feed on many destructive garden pests such as aphids and caterpillars. They also provide natural pest control, reducing the need for chemical pesticides that can be harmful to other beneficial insects or organisms. When present in large numbers, praying mantises can reduce the population of insect pests to levels that do not harm the crops.

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9 Interesting Facts About Praying Mantis - Wildlife Informer (2024)

FAQs

What are some fascinating facts about praying mantis? ›

A praying mantis has two large, compound eyes that work together to help it decipher visual cues. But strangely, the praying mantis has just a single ear, located on the underside of its belly, just forward of its hind legs. This means the mantid cannot discriminate the direction of a sound, nor its frequency.

Is A praying mantis A Predator? ›

The praying mantis is a master of deception with a seemingly benign appearance. Despite its tranquil praying pose, this elusive creature is actually quite the predator of the insect world. Chinese mantis consuming a monarch butterfly. Photo by Kevin Fryberger, Brandywine Conservancy.

How do praying mantis hide from predators? ›

Praying mantises protect themselves by camouflage and concealment in order to avoid predators and to better snare their prey. Some species have evolved to not only blend in with foliage, but to mimic it appearing as either living or withered leaves, sticks, blades of grass, and even tree bark.

What makes a praying mantis unique? ›

They are the only insects in the world that can turn their heads 180 degrees. This superpower is useful when hunting prey. Praying mantises silently sit and wait for prey to approach. Being able to turn their head and see around them helps them find prey without moving and giving away their location.

Do praying mantis have 360 vision? ›

Yes, praying mantises have the ability to rotate their heads 180 degrees, giving them an almost 360-degree view of their surroundings. This ability allows them to quickly spot and track prey, as well as to be aware of potential predators.

How smart is a praying mantis? ›

So, this begs the question: Are praying mantises intelligent? Their shape and posture are distinctive, and their large eyes, mobile head and alert, watchful behavior make them seem smart as they look like the creatures or aliens from the outer space movies. However, they are no smarter than other insects.

Are praying mantis going extinct? ›

Globally, there are an amazing 2,000 species of mantis. None of those species are considered to be threatened, likely to die out in the future or become endangered. In some countries, the praying mantis is under protected status. However, in North America, none of the species are endangered.

Do mantis eat dead prey? ›

Food Requirements and Feeding Schedule

Mantises require live foods and won't eat dead insects. Your mantis can eat a variety of insects, such as fruit flies, crickets, and ladybugs, as well as honey.

How fast is a praying mantis? ›

The fastest, 730 millimeters per second — or a little over one and a half miles per hour — mimicked a blow fly. He put eight different mantises through dozens of swings, filming each with a high-speed camera. He then analyzed the insects' recorded moves.

What do praying mantis spit out? ›

They do not really spit, instead they squirt a defensive spray from special glands on their back that can cause much pain, discomfort, and even temporary blindness if it gets in an eye. The range is up to 15 inches or so.

How far can a praying mantis jump? ›

They filmed 58 juvenile mantises as the insects leapt across a distance of about one to two mantis body lengths, landing on a black rod hung in their enclosure.

Can praying mantis turn its head 360 degrees? ›

Appearance. The mantid's thorax, or center part of the body, is long and slender enough to look like a neck. Between the head and the thorax there is a flexible joint that allows mantises to swivel their heads around 180 degrees, the only insect that can do so.

What is the rarest type of mantis? ›

Metallyticus splendidus (informally known as the iridescent bark mantis) is a rare species of praying mantis found in Southeast Asia. It has an iridescent appearance.

Can praying mantis change color? ›

The praying mantis is one type that can change color from green to brown and vice versa. While in its nymph phase, the praying mantis can take on a brownish hue after molting. However, this change occurs gradually, over several days. Needless to say, this ability is not useful for quick camouflage.

Do praying mantis remember faces? ›

Praying mantids are not known to possess the cognitive abilities required to recognize faces in the same way that humans or some other animals do. Their visual processing is geared towards detecting movement and shapes rather than intricate details like facial features.

How fast can praying mantis move? ›

The fastest, 730 millimeters per second — or a little over one and a half miles per hour — mimicked a blow fly. He put eight different mantises through dozens of swings, filming each with a high-speed camera. He then analyzed the insects' recorded moves.

How long do praying mantis live? ›

The adult praying mantis will live in the wild about 1 year. Our winter climate is too harsh for these insects to overwinter; thus it is important for them to reproduce for the next year. The adult females will lay eggs in the fall after mating with adult males.

Do praying mantis stay in one spot? ›

Mantids are famous for their sit-and-wait (otherwise known as ambush) predatory style. They typically stay very still in one place and wait for food to come to them. And they are very good at camouflaging to trick their prey into coming close enough to snatch.

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