What is the praying mantis?
The praying mantis is called for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests prayer.
By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long “neck” or elongated thorax. Mantids can rotate their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them.
Typically green or brown and well camouflaged on the plants they live in, mantis lies in ambush or patiently stalk their quarry. They use their front legs to snare their prey with reflexes so quick that they are challenging to see with the naked eye. Their legs are further equipped with spikes for snaring prey and pinning it in place.
Breeding and behavior
Moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects are usually the unfortunate recipients of unwanted mantid attention. However, the insects will also feed on others of their kind. The most notable example of this is the adult female’s famous mating behavior, who sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behavior seems not to deter males from breeding.
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