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.
50-75 mm (including wings), which extend beyond abdominal tip. (1)
"Front coxa with a large black-ringed spot near base, beneath; green color of tegmen not sharply confined to costal area."
The diagnostic black spots on the interior side of the front coxa
may, or may not, have a white center or bullseye. In some instances these spots are entirely dark. See below for examples:
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 artificially 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.
A variety of habitats, but seems to prefer sunny areas of green growth dominated by shrubbery or herbaceus plants.
adults in summer and into autumn
Diurnal insects, including caterpillars, flies, butterflies, bees and some moths.
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. egg case (or "ootheca") 3. emerging nymphs. 4. early instar nymphs. 5. later instar nymph
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.
"National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders" (1)
, p. 397.
"Peterson's Field Guide to Insects" (2)
"American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico" (3)
, p. 191.
University of Florida's Entomology Dept.
- has a downloadable pdf version of a key to Florida mantids
- has a list of mantid species in the U.S., with a breakdown of species by state