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Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa)

Common Praying Mantis

Mantis religiosa

(Order Mantodea; Family Mantidea)

Mantis religiosa, female (By Mackenzie Maki)(Kansas: Wichita/Andover. Hawthorne Residence. 37°43’39’’N, 97°10’39’’W. Found on shrub. September 7, 2013.

Mantis religiosa, female (By Mackenzie Maki)(Kansas: Wichita/Andover. Hawthorne Residence. 37°43’39’’N, 97°10’39’’W. Found on shrub. September 9, 2013.

Adult Diagnosis: One of the common species of mantis in the North America, originating in Europe, the mantis religiosa is found in southwest Kansas. Colors range from bright green to brown. Dark or light circular markers on the inside of the prothoracic legs are an indication of the species.  Males have longer wings (tegmina ), antenna (filamentous), and body. The average length is 50mm (2-3inches) long. The wings are lightly colored (yellow to brown). The prothorax is elongated with front raptorial legs and the meso/metathorax have two sets of hind gressorial legs. Spikes line the raptorial legs.  The neck is flexible and can rotate for visual needs. The wide spread eyes can be yellow or dark colored. The chewing mouthparts extend from the triangular head.


Female (left) and Male (right) Mantis religiosa. lateral view. (from:

Anatomy of Praying Mantis. from (

Adult/larval Distribution: Mantis religiosa originate in Europe. It was introduced to the United States along the east coast. Distribution in Kansas has not been documented extensively.

Distribution of Praying Mantis according to National Geographic,the bright yellow indicates the range from which specimens have been observed.(from

Adult/larval Natural History: The Praying Mantis is characterized by the long raptorial legs that are used for hunting prey. The position in which the mantis awaits attack of prey has coined its name. It remains in an upright prayer like position with neck and head surveying surroundings. Because of the range of motion in the neck, this predator is well equipped for attack.

  • Mantids are highly aggressive and will often attack other mantids. If housed in the same small facility, a larger mantis may attack and eat the smaller. The females can and will eat the males during or after mating in some cases. This has not shown to damage reproductive habits of the population.
  • Mating season begins in the fall and the eggs are kept over winter. They are then deposited on grass, brush, or twigs in an egg case. The egg case (ootheca) may have hundreds of eggs inside. The mantis will change from an egg to a nymph to an adult. This process requires molting of the exoskeleton until growth is complete (see video below).

Adult/larval Diet: As nymphs, the feeding of small insects like flies dominates the menu. If feeding is neglected, the nymphs will feed on each other until only a large nymph remains. The adults feed on insects smaller than their body mass. They have been known to eat flies, moths, crickets, grasshopers, and even dragonflies (see video below). When a female is preparing to lay eggs, the feeding increases and larger prey may be persued. Mantids have been known to result to canibalism.

Adult/larval Habitat: Adults and larva of the Mantis religiosa can be found on brush and foliage in thin or dense vegetation. They uses crypsis to blend into their surroundings. The coloring and shape of wings look like leaves of trees, blades of grass, or twigs.

Praying Mantis using crypsis to blend into the foilage.National geographic photo from:

Conservation Status/ Invasive Species Status: Stable.



Anatomy of Mantis for kids:

Geographical Information. National Geographic. Praying Mantis:

Keeping Insects As Pets. Photos. Gallery:

Video: &



  • Gurney, A.B. 1951. Praying Mantids of the United States. Smithson. Inst. Rep. 1950:339-362.
  • Triplehorn and Johnson. 2005. "Order Mantodea". Burror and Delong's Introduction to the Study of Insects. 7th Edition. Thomson-Brooks/Cole, Belmont, CA. 2005: 260-263.
  • Frederick R. Prete, Robert Theis, Justin L. Komito, Jessica Dominguez, Salina Dominguez, Gavin Svenson, Frank Wieland. (2012) Visual stimuli that elicit visual tracking, approaching and striking behavior from an unusual praying mantis, Euchomenella macrops (Insecta: Mantodea). Journal of Insect Physiology 58:5, 648-659. Online publication date: 1-May-2012.
  • Hill, S. A. (2007). Sound generation in Mantis religiosa (Mantodea: Mantidae): stridulatory structures and acoustic signal. Journal of Orthoptera Research, 16(1), 35-49.

Submitted by: Mackenzie Maki, Septemeber 2013.

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