Praying Mantis

Cape bushbuck
May 30, 2018
World Oceans Day!
June 26, 2018

Praying mantids are named so due to their prominent front legs that resemble a person in prayer. In addition to these unique legs, all praying mantids feature long necks and triangular heads capable of turning 180 degrees. Typically green or brown, the insect is well camouflaged when hunting. 

Mantises are an order (Mantodea) of insects that contains over 2,400 species in about 430 genera in 15 families. The largest family is the Mantidae (“mantids”). Mantises are distributed worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. They have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks. Their elongated bodies may or may not have wings, but all Mantodea have forelegs that are greatly enlarged and adapted for catching and gripping prey; their upright posture, while remaining stationary with forearms folded, has led to the common name praying mantis.

Mantises, like stick insects, show rocking behavior in which the insect makes rhythmic, repetitive side-to-side movements. Most mantises stalk tempting prey if it strays close enough, and will go further when they are especially hungry. Once within reach, mantises strike rapidly to grasp the prey with their spiked raptorial forelegs.