Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Upcoming Events

Photos of insects and people from the 2022 BugGuide gathering in New Mexico, July 20-24

National Moth Week was July 23-31, 2022! See moth submissions.

Photos of insects and people from the Spring 2021 gathering in Louisiana, April 28-May 2

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Photos of insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Previous events


Suborder Mantids

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
No Taxon (pics in gallery of the Spencer Entomological Collection)
No Taxon (Obsolete higher taxa -- Please delete)
Order Dictyoptera-to-be-deleted (suborders elevated to order; please delete)
Suborder Mantids
Other Common Names
Praying Mantis
Praying Locust
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
This guide page is obsolete. Please see this page.
Explanation of Names
Mantis (Greek) = soothsayer, prophet (1)
Mantodea includes at least 1800 described species worldwide, conventionally divided into 8 families (2).
Ehrmann (3) reports about 2300 species divided into 15 families.
Over 20 species are found in North America.
Mantodea species range from 1 cm long (Mantoida tenuis) to over 17 cm long (Ischnomantis gigas) (4).
Mantodea are relatively large, elongate insects that can reach several inches in length. Mantids have generally triangular heads with large compound eyes set on either side and usually three ocelli situated in between (2). Mantodea have very flexible articulation between the head and prothorax providing it with great mobility and allowing a mantid to "look over its shoulder" (5). All Mantodea have easily recognizable raptorial prothoracic legs, which they use to capture prey. However these characteristic forelegs are not exclusive to Mantodea and similar specialization may be found in Phymatinae (Hemiptera), other members of Reduviidae (Hemiptera), and especially Mantispidae (Neuroptera) (4).
North American Mantodea usually live from spring to late autumn with eggs overwintering. Tropical species of Mantodea may live longer.
Mantids are predaceous, typically feeding on insects and other arthropods, and can be highly cannibalistic. Large mantids have also been known to prey on small birds, lizards, and amphibians (5).
Life Cycle
Mantises go through incomplete metamorphosis, generally molting seven or more times prior to reaching maturity. Eggs are laid during the autumn in a foamy structure forming an ootheca (egg case), which hatch en masse in the spring.
Print References
Beverley & Ponsonby, pp. 214-223 (6)
Borror, entry for mantis (1)
Ehrmann (3)
Milne & Milne, pp. 395-398 (5)
Preston-Mafham (2)
Prete et al. (4)
Works Cited
1.Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
2.Grasshoppers and Mantids of the World
Ken Preston-Mafham. 1991. Facts on File, Inc.
3.MANTODEA Gottesanbeterinnen der Welt
Reinhard Ehrmann. 2002. Natur und Tier-Verlag.
4.The Praying Mantids
Frederick R. Prete, Lawrence E. Hurd, Patrick, H. Wells, Harrington Wells. 2000. Johns Hopkins University Press.
5.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
6.The Anatomy of Insects & Spiders: Over 600 Exquisite Forms
Claire Beverley, David Ponsonby. 2003. Chronicle Books.