The Praying Mantis

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  • Topic: Mantis, Agricultural beneficial insects, Mantidae
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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The Praying Mantis

(Mantis Religiosa)

Contents

Introduction Classes First Things First Key Features Basic Features Diet & Combat Style Reproduction Growth & Development Self-Defense Cultural Significance Praying Mantis Kung-Fu

INTRODUCTION

"Praying Mantis" is the name commonly used in English speaking countries to refer to a large, much elongated, slow-moving insect with fore legs fitted for seizing and holding insect prey. The name, "Praying Mantis" more properly refers to the specific Mantid species Mantis Religiosa or the European Mantis, but typically is used more generally to refer to any of the mantid family. The name is derived from the prayer-like position in which the insect holds its long, jointed front legs while at rest or waiting for prey. It is also called the "preying" mantis because of its predatory nature.

CLASSES

Many questions have risen regarding the praying mantis. Such questions include how many different species there are in the animal kingdom. Estimates range from 1500 to 2200 different mantid species WORLDWIDE. The most common figure given, though, is about 1800. The ways the Mantid's are classified in the Animal Kingdom. There is agreement that the collection of mantid species make up the Mantidae family of insects. The Mantidae family, in turn, is part of the order/suborder Mantodea that includes a variety of mantid-like species. But the existing literature does not reflect a clear consensus about what insect order Mantodea belong in. Some have placed Mantodea in the Dictyoptera Order-with the roaches. Others place Mantodea in the Orthoptera Order-with crickets and grasshoppers. Finally, some believe that Mantodea constitute their own independent order of insects. There seems to be an emerging consensus around this position.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

The Mantis Religiosa was first named such and classified by the inventor of the modern system of biological taxonomy Carolus Linnaeus. The three common species of mantids in North America are the European mantis (Mantis religiosa), the Chinese mantis (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis), and the Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

distinguishing features of these three species:

Size

The Chinese mantis is the largest of the three, reaching lengths of three to five inches. The European mantis, however, is a little smaller than the Chinese variety and it only reaches lengths of two to three inches. And finally the Carolina mantis is smallest of the three usually less than two inches in length.

Color

The Chinese mantis is mostly light brown with dull green trim around its wings. The European mantis is more consistently bright green in color. The Carolina mantis is a dusky brown or gray color, perhaps to blend in with the pine forests and sandhills of its native South.

Egg cases

The best way to distinguish the three species is by the shape of their egg cases or ootheca. The egg case of the Chinese mantis is roughly ball-shaped, but has a flattened area on one side. The European mantid's egg case is rounded without this a this "flat portion" The Carolina mantis has an egg case that looks like a short elongated tube, often spread out along a portion of twig or stem.

Range

The Chinese mantis can be found throughout the United States. The European mantis is most common east of the Mississippi. And the Carolina mantis makes its home in the Southeastern part of the U.S.

Other Physical Characteristics

One of the most notable features of the Carolina mantis is that their wings only extend about 3/4 of the way down the abdomen.

Markings

The European mantis is also distinguished as the only of three species that bears a black-ringed spot beneath its fore coxae.

Species Origins The Carolina mantis is one of 20 mantid species native to North America. The European and Chinese mantids were introduced to America around the turn of the century. The European mantis is said to have first been...
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