Praying Mantis



A praying mantis, or praying mantid, is the common colloquial name for an insect of the order Mantodea. Often mistakenly spelled preying mantis (a tempting mistake, as they are notoriously predatory) they are in fact named for the typical "prayer-like" stance. The word mantis derives from the Greek word Mantes for prophet or fortune teller. The preferred pluralization is mantids, though there is some usage of mantes or mantises.

There are approximately 2,300 species in the order Mantodea world-wide; most are tropical or subtropical, but several species live in temperate climates such as that of the northern United States, central Europe, and Siberia. Most Praying mantids belong to the family Mantidae.

Praying mantids are one of the few insects that can turn their heads. They have excellent vision, and hunt insects (and sometimes small vertebrates) by stealth and a rapid striking attack. No mantis is poisonous and they present no threat to humans.

Some texts refer to the European mantis (Mantis religiosa) as the most common praying mantis in European countries. Ischnomantis gigas is the largest mantis with 17cm length in the female and is found in the Sahel zone of Africa. The smallest mantis is Bolbe pygmaea, which is only 1cm long when fully grown.

A gravid female praying mantis will produce a large foam mass, called an ootheca. This ootheca can contain up to 300 eggs, all protected in the foam sack. These oothecae are laid in the fall — after which the adult mantids die — and can take up to five months to hatch. Some species hatch in small intervals, and hatching can take up to five weeks before all of the nymphs fully emerge. Not only do gravid females produce oothecae, infertile oothecae can be produced by females which have not been mated. These may sometimes hatch one or two nymphs; however, this is very unlikely. Some species, such as Brunneria borealis, produce oothecae through parthenogenesis. This is where a male is not needed to produce fertile ootheca; however, all the mantid's offspring of this sort will be female.

In the United States, species were first introduced from Europe and China around 1900 as garden predators in an effort to control pest populations. The Carolina mantis is the official state insect of South Carolina, and the European mantis is the official state insect of Connecticut.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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