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Species Mantis religiosa - European Mantis

Praying Mantis - Mantis religiosa - female Mantis species? - Mantis religiosa - female Mantis religiosa 01b - Mantis religiosa European Mantis - Mantis religiosa - Mantis religiosa praying mantis - Mantis religiosa - female Praying Mantis - Mantis religiosa - male European Mantis Egg Case - Mantis religiosa Praying Mantis - Mantis religiosa - male Mating European Mantids - Mantis religiosa - male - female
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Mantodea (Mantids)
Family Mantidae
Genus Mantis
Species religiosa (European Mantis)
Other Common Names
European Mantid, Praying Mantis
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Nomina Insecta Neartica labelled it as Mantis religiosus
Explanation of Names
At Words by William Whitaker, "religiosa" translates to "religious" or "pious". Most certainly this is referring to the mantid's posture of holding its grasping forelegs, which do resemble clasped hands in prayer.
Size
50-75 mm (including wings), which extend beyond abdominal tip. (1)
Identification
According to the Key to Florida Mantids:
"Front coxa with a large black-ringed spot near base, beneath; green color of tegmen not sharply confined to costal area."
The noted coxa black spots may, or may not, have a white center or bullseye. In some instances these spots are all dark. See below for examples:
Range
Widespread in the United States and in southeastern and southwestern Canada, but often not as common in hot humid or very dry climates as elsewhere. Generally not found in desert regions except in agricultural, urban, or otherwise artivicially watered environments. Perhaps(?) not able to overwinter in north-central US and south-central Canada. It can be expected almost anywhere, because it is often sold as egg cases for pest control in gardens, even in places where it cannot survive long term.
Habitat
A variety of habitats, but seems to prefer sunny areas of green growth dominated by shrubbery or herbaceus plants.
Season
adults in summer and into autumn
Food
Diurnal insects, including caterpillars, flies, butterflies, bees and some moths.
Life Cycle
Females lay about 100 eggs in a white hardened foam ootheca (egg case) which they cement to a tree branch or leaf. Eggs overwinter in such flat-topped mass attached to exposed twigs above the snow. They hatch almost simultaneously in the late spring. Nymphs may be dispersed by wind, and will often eat one another if they remain crowded together. Survivors are solitary. One generation matures in late summer or early autumn. (1)

1. egg laying 2. emerging nymphs. 3. early instar nymphs
Remarks
From "National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders" (1), p. 397:

This Mantid was accidentally introduced in 1899 on nursery stock from southern Europe. At a time when Gypsy Moth Caterpillars were burgeoning in the eastern states, it was recognized almost immediately as a beneficial predator. They were introduced in the 1930's into the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia for Grasshopper control. They have been for many years sold commercially as egg cases for garden insect control (as well as Chinese Mantids, and occasionally other species). However, Mantids are so cannibalistic that they are rarely numerous enough to have much effect in depleting caterpillar populations.

These are interesting insects that, largely because of their movements, seem to have a personality, and they make interesting and easy-to-keep pets.
Print References
"National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders" (1), p. 397.
"Peterson's Field Guide to Insects" (2), p.86.
"American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico" (3), p. 191.
Internet References
University of Florida's Entomology Dept. - has a downloadable pdf version of a key to Florida mantids
Herper.com - has a list of mantid species in the U.S., with a breakdown of species by state
Works Cited
1.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
2.A Field Guide to Insects
Richard E. White, Donald J. Borror, Roger Tory Peterson. 1998. Houghton Mifflin Co.
3.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.