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

Order Mantodea - Mantids

Mantid - Tenodera sinensis - male Mantid - Stagmomantis carolina - female Little Yucatan Mantid - Mantoida maya Mantis at Saguaro NP, Arizona - Litaneutria minor - male Mantid with prey - Tenodera sinensis - female Grizzled Mantid - Gonatista grisea - female Grass-like Mantis - Thesprotia graminis - male Mantis Multiple Birth Chinese Mantid nymph - Tenodera sinensis
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Mantodea (Mantids)
Other Common Names
Mantis, Praying Mantis, Praying Locust
Pronunciation
man-TOE-dee-ah
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Mantoptera
Explanation of Names
Greek mantis 'soothsayer, prophet'
Numbers
20 spp. in 12 genera in our area(1), ca. 2300 spp. worldwide, arranged in 14 families(2)(3)
Size
from 1 cm (Mantoida tenuis) to >17 cm (Ischnomantis gigas)(4)(2)
Identification
Relatively large, elongate insects up to several inches long. Typical features include triangular heads with large compound eyes set on either side and usually three ocelli in between(5); very flexible articulation between the head and prothorax providing great mobility and allowing a mantid to "look over its shoulder"(6); raptorial forelegs used to capture prey.

key to FL spp.(7) can be used to identify virtually all eastern NA mantids
Examples of oothecae:
Family Liturgusidae
Gonatista grisea (Grizzled Mantid)

Liturgusa maya

Family Mantidae
Brunneria borealis (Brunner's Mantis).

Litaneutria minor

Mantis religiosa (European mantis)

Phyllovates chlorophaea (Texas Unicorn Mantis)

Stagmomantis californica (California Mantis)

Stagmomantis sp.

Stagmomantis carolina (Carolina Mantis)

Stagmomantis gracilipes (Arizona Tan Mantis)

Tenodera sinensis (Chinese Mantid)

Tenodera angustipennis (Narrow-winged Mantis)

Family Tarachodidae
Iris oratoria (Mediterranean Mantis)

Family Thespidae
Oligonicella scudderi
Season
our spp. usually live from spring to late autumn with eggs overwintering; tropical mantids may live longer
Food
typically other arthropods; can be highly cannibalistic. Large mantids sometimes prey on small birds, lizards, and amphibians(6)
Life Cycle
metamorphosis incomplete, generally with seven or more molts before maturity. Eggs are laid late in the season in an egg case, or ootheca (first foamy, then papery after the foam sets) and hatch en masse in the spring. Most individuals seen in the field are gravid females; males are often eaten by females immediately after mating.(1)
Remarks
Note on taxonomy: Except for adaptations to predatory life that make the group look peculiar, mantids are otherwise very close to roaches & termites and can be reasonably described as predatory roaches. The differences between many lineages of the Polyneoptera are now considered rather low-level(8), and those between Blattodea and mantids by no means warrant order-level separation.

Non-native species
No common name, Liturgusa maya. From the Neotropics, recently
European Mantis, Mantis religiosa. From Europe, late 1899
Asian Jumping Mantis, Statilia maculata. From Asia, recently (2010s?)
Narrow-winged Mantis, Tenodera angustipennis. From Asia, 1930
Chinese Mantid, Tenodera sinensis. From China, 1896
Mediterranean Mantis, Iris oratoria. From the Old World
See Also
Similar leg morphology may be found among Heteroptera (Reduviidae, Nepidae), in Mantispidae (Neuroptera), and in some flies
Print References
(9)
Works Cited
1.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
2.Otte D., Spearman L., Stiewe M.B.D. Mantodea species file online. Version 5.0
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.Grasshoppers and Mantids of the World
Ken Preston-Mafham. 1991. Facts on File, Inc.
6.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
7.Florida Preying Mantids - Insecta - Mantodea
8.Evolution of the Insects
David Grimaldi and Michael S. Engel. 2005.
9.Florida preying mantids
Choate P.M. 2003.