Can you remember the last time you saw a praying mantis? Yesterday afternoon I was watching my kids play in the backyard when I discovered a baby praying mantis – such a fascinating creature! I snapped a couple of great shots of the kids observing this tiny, green, baby that seemed to love hanging out with us and running up and down are hands and arms. Below is a little information about the insect (http://garden.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Praying_Mantis_Facts).
What Is a Praying Mantis?
A praying mantis is a carnivorous insect. The mantis family includes about 2,000 different species, which range in size from about a centimeter to about 12 inches long. It's these bigger ones that most people think of when they think of praying mantises.
About 20 mantis species are native to the United States, but the European and Chinese versions of the insects have also been introduced in the states, mostly in an effort to control pests on farmlands.
The insects range in color, usually looking pea green or brown, but there are also mantises in various shades of green and even pink. They are named praying mantis because of the folding of their front legs, which looks like the posture of prayer. Some people mistakenly call them preying mantises, which is also somewhat accurate, given their skill as hunters.
Fun Praying Mantis Facts
Praying mantises have triangular-shaped heads and a compound eye on each side of their heads. They are the only insects that can turn their heads a full 180 degrees, and some species can turn almost 300 degrees without moving the rest of their bodies. They're also very sensitive to movement and can see something move up to 60 feet away.
The praying mantis is exclusively predatory – it only eats other animals, usually other insects such as flies. The larger members of the mantis species have been known to eat lizards, snakes, frogs, birds and even small rodents.
They tend to ambush their prey and are very fast when they attack. The forelegs are spiked, which helps the mantis hold on to its victims. They also have very powerful jaws, making it easy for them to kill their prey.
The praying mantis is considered diurnal, meaning that most of their activity takes place during the day, though sometimes you will see them flying around at night. They need the use of their keen eyesight to hunt, which is great news for us because we can often see them out and about in our gardens.