The Incredible Praying Mantis
D. Wayne Dworsky
About the praying mantis
As it turns out, both interpretations are correct. Dictionary definition: (From Gr, prophet, seer, kind of insect<IE base men-, to think>MIND. Any of an order (Mantodea) of slender, elongated insects that feed on other insects and grasp their prey with stout, spiny forelegs often held up together as if praying: Often called mantid.
What do they eat?
They are preditary insects, eating any other insect, including spiders.
Where are they?
They flourish in the northeastern United States as well as other places in temperate, subtropical and tropical climates of the world. The female is green, often winged and larger than the brown-colored male. After mating, the female sometimes eats the head of the male and lays a clutch of eggs in a spongy, foam egg-case material that resembles Styrofoam plastic. This case is attached to a vertical branch of a hedge or other bush as a protective measure against insect-seeking birds that cannot land on a vertical stem. The egg case hardens and becomes quite durable, able to withstand subzero temperatures. In fact, it is recommended to those propagating the species to cut the egg cases out of the bushes and store them in a freezer until spring. When they are reintroduced, they can be placed anywhere, maximizing their survival.
How come I never see them?
Praying mantids are experts in camouflage. Blending in with their environments, they adorn leaf-like green wings and spiny legs that conceal their identity, even fooling birds. They scamper among the bushes with incredible ease, snatching prey with lightning speed. They are also master predators. They sit perfectly still within dense bushes, stalking their prey with the stealth of a leopard. And they are voracious eaters, consuming five times or more their body weight daily.
Succeeding in propagating this creature in your backyard. (Gardenerís friend)
Last year, I was successful in breeding them since I saw as many as 6 egg cases in my hedges. They were no accident. I saw to it that these insects remained protected from birds and out of the reach of people. Consequently, I saw hundreds of hatchlings in the spring of 2007 and I observed many reaching adulthood during the summer. As a result, I have succeeded to cultivate as many as 20 egg cases this fall.
When I was a child, a field adjacent to the house in which I lived was populated with praying mantids. The back yard was also home to the infamous wolf spider, which grow to rather substantial size. My favorite game was to put a praying mantis and a wolf spider in a tub for a contest, a fight to the death. Often both died in the process. Although it may have seemed like a cruel game, it was a learning experience for meóa learning experience about venom. It was only luck that I was not the one envenomated.
Some sites that show wonderful photos:
Here is an interesting video: