Praying Mantis

The Praying Mantis is one of the most loved of the insect world to humans and one of the most feared to other insects.

It is extremely beneficial to gardens and humans because of its penchant for eating the things that bug us. They will eat mites, aphids and most other insects that are within the grasp of their front legs.


Praying mantis’ are related to grasshoppers and crickets, belonging to a family of insects called orthoptera.

They have, like their cousin the grasshopper, mouths which have parts designed to chew and very distinct wings.

Praying Mantis'
Praying Mantis'


There are about 1800 varieties of mantis world wide. Many, if not most of these live in warmer, subtropical climates, however the United States is home to about three of them.

Only one, the Carolina mantis is considered to be native to the United States, the others, including the European and Chinese arrived in the US via shipments of goods which had been brought here around the turn of the century, late 1800’s, or early 1900’s.


Praying mantis mate in the autumn. The male of the species is much smaller than the female and sometimes end up as lunch rather than a potential climate.

The male perches atop the females back and touches his abdominal area to hers, passing his sperm to her body where she stores them in chambers designed especially for this purpose. Once the mating is over, females very often will consume the male, at times even before the mating ritual is over.

The male mantis do not attempt to prevent themselves from being eaten, but usually permit it.


The female carries her eggs with her for a time, depositing them finally in a walnut sized cluster.

Praying Mantis can grow to well over 6 inches, and go through some very distinct changes as they grow from infancy to adulthood.

The three changes which the mantis goes through as it changes from a baby to an adult are egg, nymph, and adult.

Once the egg hatches, a baby, or immature praying mantis is revealed. It is called a nymph, and looks almost exactly like its mother except it is a great deal smaller and the wings have not yet appeared.

Baby Mantis'
Baby Mantis'

These little nymphs grow in a very unique way as compared to a human or mammal. The body of the little nymph grows larger and as it does so, it outgrows its skeleton. Mantis babies have what is called an exoskeleton, which means that its skeleton is on the outside of its body. These skeletons are flexible and allow for some growth, yet they themselves do not grow. When the insect baby becomes too large, it must shed the exoskeleton which is too small and form a new one. The process of losing the exoskeleton is called molting.

Little mantis will lose this exoskeleton as many as ten times, depending on which type they are. Every time they do molt they grow more, until they are as large as they will become.

Somehow, nature knows when it is time for the last molting, and they emerge from their last molt with wings which will be thin, transparent and look a great deal like wrinkled fabric. Within several hours they will dry and begin to stretch.

The praying mantis will very often attack and eat things much larger than herself, including frogs and lizards. Adult and small mantis will eat anything that does not eat them first. They will kill moths, bees, beetles and horseflies, which is what makes them a friend to humans.

Find out more about the Praying Mantis’ over at Wikipedia »

  • tiffany

    Thanks for all of that information, it really helped me out this is a good site.
    Everyone should come to this site if they need information about a bug.

  • Cathie

    Lucky me! I have a Praying Mantis that has been hanging on to the hood of my car for a day. He/She has gone to the train station and back 2 times.

  • Chaka S. Rosemin

    Hello Everyone
    Let me tell you about my experience regarding the Praying Mantis. At 3:30 or 4am in the morning on September 9,2009, I was instructed to read Ephesians 2 by the Holy Spirit. Well I was obedient and did what thus saith the Lord. Well I rejoice over what I read, it rejuvenated my spirit. So I began to pray ond give all the glory to God. It was amazing, because God’s glory overshadowed me like never before. The Glory was so evident and powerful that my physical body could not even stand still. After I finished praying and getting ready for the morning I walked out of my door and the Praying Mantis was right there, directly next to my apartment. The Praying Mantis looked at me like yes I was sent here for you. This Mantis was Praying, I mean his antennas was down, legs spreaded, and he was really praying. Now I live in an apartment complex, which has 5 apartments. When I went to work the Praying Mantis was by my door,and when I came home he was there in the same spot. That praying Mantis was there from 7:30 am to 10pm. He was devouted and did what he was sent by God to do. God sent him there for confirmation, God knows we are human and will show us HE means what He says. When God made the covenant with Noah, God gave the rainbow as confirmation. I know God sent that Praying Mantis just for me.

  • Lu Ann

    for a week now there is a large praying mantis in my garden right by my door. he/she just goes from the top of the bush to the bottom. its getting cold here in day its in the 40′s i dont want it to die from the cold. is there anything i can do to make this beautiful bug live throughout the winter months. doing research i read that people keep them as pets. if i would to try to protect this bug. what foods would i give it to survive and what kind of envirionment would i have to set up for it? any advice would be appreciated. i feel so dumb in asking these questions but hey if he could live longer why not? its just that hes been staying here over a week. and i am getting attached to it. thanks

  • Orlando

    Chaka S. Roseman…..For sometime now I have had many praying mantis visit my door step. At first is seemed like it was a male, since it was small. It would move across my door stop up and down side to side, but I would never notice it. For several days the mantis stayed. I actually named it BOB, since it was their for awhile. “BOB” left and didn’t return one day. Following “BOB’s” departure another mantis came to my doorstep. It was larger this time so it had to be a female. The female I named her “BILLY JEAN”. She stayed for awhile also for sometime. For the past couple of days a mantis hasn’t been at my doorstep. I’m not sure what it means or what? Do you or anyone know? This has never happened to me before from what I can remember.

  • Tom Redmon

    About four years ago I found a strange brown bug in my backyard near the end of the summer (mid-August). I caught it in a jar and after looking closely at this half inch bug I relized it had the characteristic front legs of a praying mantis. I was quite shocked because I live in Anchorage Alaska.

  • Tony Spackman

    Years ago I found a praying mantis that was black and yellow striped at first I thought it was a wasp or a bee. What kind of mantis was it. I live close to an airforce base and thought it may have come from another country :)~Tony

  • Toot’ La

    thanks so much for the info!

  • la la

    i love your website. it is awesome!

  • robb frost

    you may want to check the coloration of the surroundings they say that a mantis evolves its color or (changes) to adapt to its surroundings for better camoflauge to jump on its prey thats probably what happened but also its very common for them to be reintroduced to areas they arent familiar with in the act of gardening plants or other things that are imported

  • robb frost

    isnt it amazing how animals always find a way to survive and flourish even when man has destroyed habitats and sprayed chemicals in the air. We as humans complain about deficits and relationships yet they still find away no matter what got to love it, especially how the american eagle has came back from near extinction!

  • Chaka Rosemin

    The praying mantis experience I had encouraged me to increase my prayer life. If you ever look at the Praying Mantis, they are usually by themselves in a quite area praying. It is important to pray constantly. Many of the prophets, Kings, men, and women in the Bible always prayed. Jesus himself always prayed, usually by himself. Before. that praying mantis came, I prayed but not as much as I do now. Many people may think they have no time to pray. My answer to that is make and take the time to pray. Prayer changes things, and also builds up the Spirit. In the Old Testament when people did not know what to do they prayed for God to give them direction, instruction, wisdom, peace, and strength. God created the praying mantis and that bug is doing exactly what God created it to do. The praying mantis does not let anything prevent him/her from praying. You can pray anywhere, even if it means you have to get away from the multitude, please take the time to pray. Pray for others as well as yourself. God answers prayers. He told Solomon ” If my people which are called by my name would humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways. Then I would hear from Heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land. When the prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah to get his house in order because he was going to die. The King turned his pace to the wall and prayed. God added 15 more years to the king’s life too. When the enemies came after King Jehosophat, he went into the temple and prayed because he didn’t know what to do. When Hannah wanted her barren womb opened, she wept and poured out her heart to God. If Hannah never prayed there would have not been a Samuel. God also blessed the once barren woman with 5 more children. The same way prayer worked then it still works the exact same way. It is such a form of humility. I would encourage anyone to use the Mantis as an example or God’s way of telling you how important it is to pray.

  • Kianna McRae

    In response to your comment Chaka Rosemin, I am so filled with the spirit. I have to share my story…My husband and I have 1 beautiful son who is 6 and half years old. We have been trying and trying to conceive a second child. In September of 2009 we conceived and miscarried in November of 2009. We were devastated. Months have passed and we began trying again. I recently found out I am pregnant again and today when they did my beta lab for HCG my numbers appear to be on the lower side based on the date of the pregnancy they are assuming I am at right now. Anyway all day today I prayed and cried and cried and honestly did more crying than praying. When I got home my husband I started to talk about it and I started getting frustrated because he was saying how everything was going to be ok. When he went outside he noticed a beautiful PRAYING MANTIS. He then pointed it out to me as he was fascinated. It then dawned on us…God placed that bug right on our lawn chair instructing us to pray without ceasing. I got it, I totally understand what you are saying about praying. Once you have the spirit you notice these things and it is amazing how God can speak to us even through nature. I go back to the doctor tomorrow to make sure my levels are rising. We’ve prayed and although I can’t see what tomorrow brings I have faith and I believe in what God has in store for us my faith has been restored.

  • Chaka Rosemin

    Kianna, this is nothing but divine intervention. This is no coincidence. I guarantee you as long as you and your husband keep the faith, everything will be fine. I would encourage you to get some olive oil pray over it and anoint your stomach. Speak God’s promises no matter what the doctors say. I will also be praying for you as well. God has a way of giving confirmation. This was confirmation for you. God Bless you, and may he continue to be with you.

  • Jessica Hammons

    I found the same striped bug he flew up and stuck on my knee I thought he was a bee so I brushed him off upon seeing his claw things I put him in a jar and I havent found any info on this type of mantis I live in Ohio and it was very odd that he was colored this way any ideas??

  • u dont need to know

    im not finding anything on the praying mantis so can u help me or not idk ,but i am not finding anything!

  • kitty

    Hi back to you. The day before my daughter was married we were walking on the sidewalk at the beach in Ventura, Ca. The wedding to be held there at a place called The Yellow Umbrella. The facility has a nice area for special events. All of a sudden I saw a huge Praying Mantis in the middle of the sidewalk. Bikers and walkers could has smashed it easily. I took off my little fanny type purse, used for hiking, and held it down for the Mantis to climb onto which it did. As I walked along it was turning its head and looking at me. Then it started to walk towards me. I freaked out and took it over to a bush and let it get onto a branch. I went back later to find it. I was telling myself not to be afraid and let it on me. Well, I could not find it. That was a week and half ago. Tonight, I went outside my apt. door where I have lots of plants next to my door and there on the wall was another huge mantis. It is very light in color but about the same size as the one at the beach. What a wonderful experience.

  • Marz

    Mantids are part of the order Mantodea not Orthoptera.

  • Anonymous

    Not to rain on your parades, but you do know they are called “preying”, not praying, mantises right? Preying as in they prey on all sorts of insects/other creatures. Praying was a misnomer given because they keep their arms in that position, but they really do that for quicker scythe to mandible movement when they are able to catch their prey.

  • Beach McCauslin

    We have a cooler outside and an adult praying mantis was on it!! :) so cute

  • Beach McCauslin

    but its a little creepy when thay turn there head!

  • Beach McCauslin

    woah thats cool!!!!

  • Angela S Harris

    I saw one here in Wisconsin. It drowned in a tub of water, is it very strange to have this in wisconsin.

  • Smith

    Sorry but they are Praying mantis they were named that from the way they hold their front legs in a praying position !!!!

  • MrGuy

    Sorry, but—no. They are called “praying” because of the position of their arms. Just because you don’t like the definition of “praying” doesn’t mean you can rewrite things to suit your prejudices. People often name objects in the natural world based on what they resemble. The word “preying” could be applied to many, many animals more notable for their vicious and ravenous nature than a small insect, so that’s not where the mantis got its common name.

  • Brandie Jenkins

    I found someone who is selling Mantis egg sacks with care instructions. I think I am about to be a mommy!!!!

  • cleo

    There is a praying mantis on my car this morning I took my grandkids to school went to the grocery store and back home and it is still on my car I just lost my best friend Lani ,so that’s what I call my praying mantis.I’ve been going through some things which have me so uptight I thanked God and the praying mantis for beautiful morning.

  • cleo

    There is a praying mantis on my car this morning I took my grandkids to school went to the grocery store and back home and it is still on my car I just lost my best friend Lani ,so that’s what I call my praying mantis.I’ve been going through some things which have me so uptight I thanked God and the praying mantis for beautiful morning.

  • cleo

    There is a praying mantis on my car this morning I took my grandkids to school went to the grocery store and back home and it is still on my car I just lost my best friend Lani ,so that’s what I call my praying mantis.I’ve been going through some things which have me so uptight I thanked God and the praying mantis for beautiful morning.

  • BOO

    I have 5 oothecas there is going to be a lot here my family and I are needing to force hatch them tho :)

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