Where Do Praying Mantis Live: Exploring Their Natural Habitats

Praying mantises are fascinating insects known for their unique appearance and predatory behavior. They can be found in a wide range of habitats across the world, but their specific location can vary depending on the species.

You might be curious about where these incredible insects reside. Generally, praying mantises call temperate and tropical regions their home. They can adapt to different environments, from lush gardens to grassy meadows and wooded areas. Some species even thrive in arid desert surroundings.

As you explore your surroundings, keep an eye out for these stealthy hunters. They are masters of camouflage, often blending in with their surroundings and waiting patiently for their next meal to pass by. So, whether you’re in your backyard or venturing into the wild, you never know when you might come across a praying mantis hidden within the foliage.

Distribution and Habitats

Asia and Africa

In Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, and Africa, praying mantids can be found in various types of habitats. They are often seen in:

  • Forests
  • Grasslands
  • Gardens

In these habitats, you can find them among vegetation, blending in with their surroundings. For example, the tropical regions of Southeast Asia are home to some colorful species of mantids that camouflage themselves with bright flowers and leaves.

North America

Moving on to North America, praying mantids can be found across the USA and parts of Canada. A common native species in the southern United States is the Carolina mantis. Meanwhile, the introduced species such as the Chinese mantis, narrow-winged mantis, and European mantis have also established themselves in various regions of North America.

In North America, just like in Asia and Africa, praying mantids can be found in a range of habitats, including:

  • Forests
  • Grasslands
  • Dense shrubs
  • Gardens

In Connecticut, the European praying mantis even became the state insect in 1977. Mantids rely heavily on camouflage, and in these habitats, they can blend in with their environment, such as bark, leaves, and grasses.

Remember, praying mantids are incredible predators and rely on their habitat to help them blend in and catch their prey. Their wide distribution across Asia, Africa, and North America provides ample opportunities to observe these fascinating insects in the wild.

Key Characteristics

Physical Characteristics

Praying mantises have a distinctive body structure with several noticeable features. Their triangular head sports large, compound eyes which allow them to have a wide field of vision. Here are some main physical features:

  • Head: Triangular shape, with large compound eyes for great vision.
  • Antennae: Helps them to locate prey and other insects.
  • Abdomen: Elongated and flexible, assisting in balance and movement.
  • Forelegs: Spiny, raptorial front legs designed for capturing prey.
  • Wings: Most adult mantids have wings for short flights.

Their coloration varies, with common shades of green or brown to help them camouflage in their surroundings. Additionally, the prothorax is elongated, allowing for swift movements of the head and forelegs.

Behavioural Traits

Praying mantises exhibit several fascinating behaviors, making them formidable predators in their environment. Key behavioral traits include:

  • Carnivorous Insect: Mantids primarily feed on other insects and smaller animals, using their spiked front legs to grasp and secure their prey.
  • Camouflage: With their adaptable coloration, they blend in well with their surroundings, making it easier to ambush prey or hide from predators.
  • Vision: Their compound eyes are well-suited for visual hunting, giving them the ability to spot prey while staying hidden.
  • Predatory Skills: Mantids stalk their prey, pouncing on it when close enough, and using their sharp foreleg spikes to swiftly immobilize their target.

These physical and behavioral characteristics enable the praying mantis to be an effective hunter in their natural habitats, which typically include gardens, meadows, and forests.

Life Cycle

Reproduction and Eggs

When it comes to the life cycle of a praying mantis, the process begins with reproduction and the creation of the ootheca. During mating season, male and female mantids engage in a fascinating courtship ritual, which occasionally ends in sexual cannibalism, wherein the female consumes the male after mating. Upon successful mating, the female will then lay her eggs and encase them in a protective structure called an ootheca. The ootheca can contain up to 200 eggs, depending on the species, such as the Chinese mantis or Mantis religiosa.

Oothecas provide a safeguard for the developing eggs, shielding them from harsh weather conditions and predators. As winter sets in, the eggs remain dormant inside the ootheca, awaiting optimal temperature conditions for hatching.

Nymph to Adult Stages

Once spring arrives and temperatures increase, the young mantids, called nymphs, emerge from the ootheca. Nymphs resemble miniature versions of adult praying mantises, yet lacking in fully developed wings. Throughout their life cycle, mantids will undergo several stages of molting – the process by which they shed their old exoskeleton to make way for a new, larger one.

As the nymphs grow, they will molt several times, gradually transforming into adult mantises. During this time, they rely on their raptorial legs and ambush-style hunting to capture prey, adopting a primarily carnivorous diet. As they transition into adulthood, wings develop, allowing them to seek out new hunting grounds and potential mates.

In general, the life span of a praying mantis ranges from 6 to 12 months, depending on factors such as species, temperature, and environment. Throughout their life cycle, these fascinating insects play a critical role in controlling garden pests and contributing to their local ecosystems. As you observe and learn more about mantids, be sure to appreciate their unique characteristics and impressive adaptations.

Predator and Prey

Common Praying Mantis Prey

Praying mantises are carnivorous insects that have a varied diet. They primarily feed on smaller insects, such as:

  • Flies: These are among their favorite prey, often caught while flying.
  • Crickets: Slow-moving and easy to ambush, crickets are a popular meal.
  • Grasshoppers: Another common prey, grasshoppers provide a good-sized meal for mantises.

Mantises are ambush predators. They patiently wait for their prey to come close before striking with lightning speed, using their spiny front legs to grasp and hold their catch. Examples of their hunting prowess include:

  1. Camouflage: Mantises are experts at blending into their environment, making it easier to ambush unsuspecting prey source.
  2. Fast reflexes: They are capable of striking their prey in a fraction of a second.

Natural Predators

While praying mantises are skilled predators, they also face threats from various animals. Some of their natural predators include:

  • Birds: Many species of birds prey on mantises, picking them off while they’re perched on plants.
  • Frogs: These amphibians can grab a mantis from the ground or low branches with their sticky tongues.
  • Spiders: Some spiders, especially larger ones, can catch and eat mantises.
  • Bats: Aerial predators like bats can snatch mantises out of the air during their night flights.

Here’s a summary table of the predator-prey relationships:

Praying Mantis Prey Natural Predators
Flies Birds
Crickets Frogs
Grasshoppers Spiders
Bats

Knowing this information can help you understand the role praying mantises play in their ecosystem, contributing to the balance of nature as both predators and prey.

In Captivity

Diet and Care

When keeping praying mantids in captivity, you should provide them with a proper diet and living environment. Praying mantids are carnivorous insects, primarily eating other insects, small vertebrates, and spiders. Some common prey items for mantids in captivity include fruit flies, crickets, and other small insects 1. As a mantid owner, you should:

  • Offer a variety of food items
  • Feed them every 1-2 days for juveniles, and less frequently for adult mantids
  • Never leave live food in the enclosure unattended, as it may harm the mantid

As for their living environment, praying mantids need a suitable space to move and molt. Ensure their enclosure has:

  • Adequate ventilation
  • Enough space for the mantid to climb and stretch out
  • Proper humidity to support a healthy molt

As Pets

Praying mantids make interesting pets due to their unique appearance and fascinating predatory behavior. They are relatively low maintenance, but they do require a certain level of attention to thrive. Some pros and cons of keeping praying mantids as pets include:

Pros:

  • Fascinating and unique creatures to observe
  • Low maintenance compared to some other exotic pets
  • Can help control insect pests in your home

Cons:

  • Short lifespan (usually 1-2 years)
  • Require live food, which may be difficult for some owners to obtain regularly
  • Not suitable for handling, as they are delicate and may become stressed

In conclusion, if you share a genuine interest in these fascinating creatures, praying mantids can make rewarding and low-maintenance pets. Just remember to provide them with the proper diet and living conditions, and enjoy observing their intriguing behavior.

Mantis in Gardens

Mantis as Pest Control

When it comes to maintaining a healthy garden, you might consider incorporating praying mantises for natural pest control. These fascinating insects are generalist predators and can actively search for their prey1. As they feed on a variety of pests, mantises can help keep your garden free from harmful insects.

However, be mindful that mantises are not picky eaters. They may also prey on beneficial insects, such as pollinators. Weigh the potential pros and cons of using mantises for pest control in your garden.

Protecting Mantises

If you decide to introduce mantises to your garden, it’s crucial to create a suitable environment for them. Consider these tips to support the thriving mantis population:

  • Provide shelter: Mantises use plants for hiding, hunting, and mating2. Plant a diverse mix of native vegetation that can offer ample cover and camouflage.
  • Minimize pesticide use: Pesticides can harm mantises too. Opt for organic or less harmful alternatives to protect these beneficial predators.
  • Offer water: Just like other living creatures, mantises need water for survival. Provide a shallow dish with small rocks to prevent drowning.
  • Be patient: Mantises are well-camouflaged and may not always be noticeable3. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results; they are likely hard at work keeping pests at bay.

By incorporating mantises into your pest control strategy and protecting them, you’re taking an eco-friendly approach to gardening while also supporting local wildlife4. Remember to weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks to make the best decision for your garden’s unique needs.

Interesting Mantis Facts

Unique Mantis Species

There are many mantid species, but some notable examples include the European mantis, Carolina mantis, and Chinese mantis. The European mantis is usually green or brown, while the Carolina mantis features a more slender and elongated appearance. The Chinese mantis can change colors after molting, blending in with its surroundings.

Species Appearance Notable Features
European Mantis Green or brown, large Simple eyes, strong sense of smell
Carolina Mantis Slender and elongated, gray-brown Native to North America
Chinese Mantis Changes colors after molting, well-camouflaged Larger, beige egg cases

Cultural Significance

Praying mantises have had an impact on various cultures. In some areas, people believe that encountering a mantis brings good fortune. However, their basic biology contradicts this idea, as they are natural predators that actively search for their prey. Regardless, mantises remain fascinating invertebrates known for their unique appearance, with folded front legs resembling a “praying” posture, and excellent hunting skills.

To appreciate these amazing creatures further, consider these mantis facts:

  • Mantid species can be green or brown, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings.
  • Female praying mantises sometimes release pheromones to attract males.
  • Mantids are predators with excellent vision, using their sight to locate and capture prey.
  • The praying mantis population is widespread, with a distribution covering diverse climates and habitats.

By understanding more about the mantis family, you can better appreciate these intriguing and valuable members of the insect world.

Footnotes

  1. Praying Mantids – Wisconsin Horticulture 2

  2. https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/58926.html

  3. https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/good-growing/2022-10-28-what-praying-mantid-have-i-found-identifying-praying-mantids-illinois

  4. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/mantids-mantises

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mantis from Mallorca

 

Subject:  Big bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Mallorca
Date: 10/17/2018
Time: 05:11 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We saw this giant bug on the window of our flat and we just don’t know what it is! Please help!
How you want your letter signed:  Daniel Jones

Mantis

Dear Daniel,
This is a predatory male Mantis.  Most sources call them Praying Mantids, but we prefer the more secular name Preying Mantids.

Letter 2 – Mantis from Greece

 

Subject:  What is this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Elounda, Crete, Greece
Date: 09/27/2017
Time: 05:02 AM EDT
Staying in Elounda and this jumped in front of us on to a wall at night, it seemed attracted to the light on the wall.  Saw this and thought at first it might be a grasshopper but unsure?  Then saw this lovely green insect… Any clues please?
How you want your letter signed:  Sue S

Mantis

Dear Sue,
This is a Mantis and we believe it is likely a male Mediterranean Mantis,
Iris oratoria, a species that has been introduced to other parts of the world including North America as this BugGuide image demonstrates.  Your other insect is a Stink Bug.

Dear Daniel
Thank you so very much for your fabulous, speedy response.
Really appreciate your suggestions.
Thanks a lot
Sue 🙂

Letter 3 – Mantis from Argentina

 

Subject: mantis
Location: Argentina
January 16, 2015 1:11 pm
Hello bugman,
We love your site. Wonderful fauna we have in the world and great you let us share in the variety. Now we know a lot better what we see in the house and around it.
We found this beauty in our garden the day before yesterday. We have never seen a mantis like this one before! Have you ever? What is the name of it?
Thank you for your answer.
Signature: Audrey

Mantis
Mantis

Hi Audrey,
Thanks so much for the compliment.  We are posting your submission and we hope to be able to determine the species of your Mantis in the near future.

Mantis
Mantis

Letter 4 – Mantis from Australia

 

Black Spiny Mantis from Australia
Hi guys,
As I mentioned I have been finding lots of new and unusual bugs at my new property. This is the mantis that I found. I had Dave Britton, the entomology collections manager from the Australian Museum, have a look at it and he says it is most probably in the genus Paraoxypilus (Family Amorphoscelidae). It is only about an inch long and very quick.
The site seems to be loading quite quickly now and the new layout makes it heaps easier, thanks for the great effort you guys put in.
aussietrev
Burnett Region, Queensland. Australia

Australian Preying Mantis
Australian Preying Mantis

Hi Trev,
Thanks for sending in another new species for our site, and thanks so much for saving us the time it takes to identify new species. We are thrilled to hear the site is working better for you and we will pass the information on to our web host who spent many long hours trying to make us more efficient.

Letter 5 – Mantis from Australia

 

Subject: aussietrev Micro Mantis
Location: Nth Burnett. Queensland Australia
October 31, 2012 8:16 pm
Hi guys,
hope you and yours are all well after the storm.
I spotted this little guy on my lemon tree. At first I thought it was just another ant looking for scale insects to farm as it scurried along the leaf but then noticed the curled forearms. It really is no bigger than a meat ant as can be seen by the scale in reference to my finger tip and has the same shiny skin which I haven’t seem before on a mantis.
Do you think it is just a juvenile or a micro species?
regards,
Trevor
Signature: Aussietrev

Mantis

Hi Trevor,
My, this Mantis sure has big eyes.  We suspect this is a nymph and not a micro-mantis.  Thanks for another wonderful submission.

Mantis

 

Letter 6 – Mantis from Australia: Sphodropoda species

 

Subject: please ID this bug
Location: Walunga National Park, Swan Valley, WA, Australia
February 24, 2013 1:21 am
I came across this insect in Walunga National Park.
Please could you identify it for me.
Thank you.
Bob Graham

Mantis
Mantis

Hi Bob,
This is some species of Mantis, but we cannot say for certain which species.  We didn’t expect to find your Mantis from Western Australia on the Brisbane Insect website, and we were correct in that expectaion.  We suspect this might be a species confined to your western region and there is not a good insect identification site for that area.

Mantis
Mantis

Identification:  October 14, 2013
Draco just wrote in to identify this as a male Sphodropoda species.


Letter 7 – Mantis from Brazil

 

Subject: Mantid
Location: Fortaleza, Brazil
January 28, 2016 10:12 pm
A mantid found in Fortaleza, Brazil. Found in the daytime on a wall.
Signature: Wesley Neely

Mantis
Mantis

Dear Wesley,
We tried to identify your Mantis to the species level, which we did not think would be too difficult because of the distinctive lobes at the tips of the wings, but alas, we could not find any matching images on Insetologia or on the web in our cursory search.  Perhaps Cesar Crash will have better luck with this one.

Thanks for your help! I have the same issues!

Letter 8 – Mantis from Ibiza

 

Subject: Stick insect?
Location: Ibiza
September 21, 2015 1:40 pm
This little chap leapt from a bush onto a wall on the island of Ibiza, he was around 4inches long. It looks like some kind of stick insect although the head looks too broad. Any ideas?
Thanks
Signature: Steve

Mantis
Mantis

Dear Steve,
This is not a Stick Insect.  It is a predatory Mantis.

Letter 9 – Mantis from South Africa

 

Subject: Large Mantis posing
Location: Cape Town South Africa
April 14, 2016 6:54 am
took pictures from that nice mantis.
she was posing very nice and looked into the lense
size was r.a. 15cm so thats a huge bugger
Signature: ThunderPie

Mantis
Mantis

Dear ThunderPie,
The bright blue color on the inside of the raptorial front leg that is visible in one of your images seems like an excellent identification feature, and that supposition proved correct when we found this matching image of
 Polyspilota aeruginosa on iSpot.  According to Exotic Pets, the common name is the Madagascan Marbled Praying Mantis.  Your individual appears to be a more slender male.

Mantis
Mantis

Letter 10 – Preying Mantis from Cyprus

 

Subject: Hammer head insect
Location: Cyprus
October 10, 2016 2:08 am
Can you please identify this bug?
Signature: Pete Hussey

Preying Mantis
Preying Mantis

Dear Pete,
The simple answer to your question is that this is a Mantis, and she is a female.  We thought it might be easy to identify her to the species level, but we have our doubts.  She is NOT
Sphodromantis viridis, a species pictured on the Biodiversity of Cyprus site, because she lacks the characteristic white spot on her wings.  Three species of Mantis are pictured on the Cyprus Insects and Reptiles site, but the only species that looks close is the Mediterranean Mantis,  Iris oratoria.  Your individual has mottled wings, unlike the images of the Mediterranean Mantis we located on BugGuide (because it was introduced to North America) or on ZipCodeZoo.  A very similar looking Mantis is pictured on the Yorkshire Field Herping and Wildlife Photography site in a 2014 Cyprus posting, but it is identified only as “Mantis Spp.”

Letter 11 – Preying Mantis from Australia

 

What’s this Bug?
Hi Bug Man,
This one was sheltering from thunder by our house in Perth, Western Australia. Any info?
Dom

Hi Dom,
This is a Preying Mantis, but we do not know the species.

Letter 12 – Preying Mantis from Greece lays Ootheca: Ameles spallanzania

 

Praying Mantis laying eggs
January 10, 2010
Dear what’s that bug,
my best wishes for the New Year in order to continue your great job. I found this adult female praying mantis at 25th of December 2009.

Unknown Preying Mantis
 Preying Mantis

Its length is approximately 2cm (0.79inch) and it gave birth at 5th of January 2010. Except of the identification, is it possible to tell me for how long will it live and around what season will the eggs hatch? Are there any special conditions that I should preserve the eggs? Many thanks for your life saving assistance…
Praying Mantis laying eggs
Southern Greece, Northwest of the island of Crete, Municipality of Chania, Kastelli

Mantis laying Ootheca
Mantis laying Ootheca

We are uncertain of the species, and we spent a bit of time trying to research Greek mantises.  This is a small mantis, and we hope one of our readers can supply a species identification.  In colder climates, the ootheca or egg case passes the winter and hatches in the spring.  In milder climates, we would expect the ootheca to take several months to hatch.  You do not need to give the ootheca any special care.  Your photos are very nice.

Unknown Preying Mantis
Preying Mantis

Karl delivers an identification
Hi Daniel:
There are at least two species of tiny mantids in the region, the common European dwarf mantis (Ameles spallanzania) and the much rarer Geomantie larvoides. Both are less than 3 cm in size and both show considerable color variation. However, G. larvoides has round eyes and is completely wingless in both sexes, while A. spallanzania has more typically conical eyes and only the females are flightless, although they do retain small vestigial wings. The wide upturned female abdomen is also notable for A. spallanzania. Therefore, I think this is likely a species of Amelas, quite possibly A. spallanzania. Regards.
Karl

Letter 13 – Preying Mantis from Kenya

 

Subject: 2nd mantis from Kenya
Location: Sengera, Kenya
January 12, 2013 4:32 pm
This is my other mantis. This one has been seen before out there. This one was discovered in our kitchen. Looks quite a beast too!
Signature: Ben Fiddes

Mantis

Hi again Ben,
We are going to have to defer to any Mantis experts out there to identify this Preying Mantis to the species level.  It is not as distinctive as your immature Spiny Flower Mantis.

Mantis

Letter 14 – Preying Mantis from South Africa

 

Springbok Mantis?
Location: Grootwater, Limpopo, South Africa
July 26, 2011 3:32 am
Hello Bugman,
Going through some photo’s from my stay in South Africa and found these pictures of my close encounter with a praying mantis. A few of my South African friends said it is probably a inmature springbok Mantis, but this is probably a local name for the fellow. Could you guys be more specific?
Signature: Jan

Preying Mantis

Hi Jan,
We have learned in doing the research for this posting that the Springbok Mantis is native to South Africa, but it has gained notoriety because it was accidentally introduced to New Zealand where it is displacing the native Mantids.  We cannot say for certain that your individual is or is not an immature Springbok Mantis.  The stance and carriage of the abdomen is unusual, though not unique among Mantids.  We cannot locate a photo of an immature Springbok Mantis for comparison, and the photos of adult Springbok Mantids do not show that particular body stance.  You can read about the Springbok Mantis in New Zealand on the Radio Live website and this Hello PHoto Blog.

Immature Preying Mantis, but what species???

Letter 15 – Preying Mantis in a Shoebox

 

Hi there,
I love your website, and find myself checking it regularly. I thought you might like a couple of photos I took. The praying mantis was rescued from a busy sidewalk/parking lot where she was about to get squashed. I let her go in my garden. She is having her first look at freedom and me from the shoebox I used to capture her.
Grace E. Pedalino
Troy, Virginia

Hi Grace,
Thank you for all of your photos. We will be posting several. Your Preying Mantis is just about the cutest bug on the planet. Check out Grace’s awesome Wolf Spider photo and Walking Stick photo.

Letter 16 – Preying Mantis in Threat Position

 


Hello, my friend found this strange looking bug in her lawn. She jingled her car keys next to it and it proceeded to do what it is doing in the picture. Arms and wings out, with what looks to be teeth bared. To me it looks like some kind of praying mantis but we just can’t figure it out. Can you help? It looks like something out of a movie!
Bethany

Hi Bethany,
What a marvelous image of a Preying Mantis assuming its “Threat Posture”.

Letter 17 – Preying Mantis lays Ootheca

 

Subject: Praying Mantis with egg case
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
September 5, 2012 4:52 pm
Hello. I was fortunate to see this praying mantis laying an egg case. I am wondering — how long until it hatches? How many young are likely to emerge? Are there signs that it is about to hatch?
I live in Scottsdale, AZ (Phoenix area), and this photo was taken on August 31, 2012.
Thank you for your web fascinating web site!
Signature: Lucille

Preying Mantis lays Ootheca

Hi Lucille,
We are guessing that this might be
Stagmomantis limbata.  We hope one of our readers will be able to confirm or correct the species identification.  BugGuide states:  “Overwinter as eggs; hatch in spring or early summer; adults mostly in summer and autumn. Females in particular may sometimes survive well into winter.”  We suspect this ootheca may hatch in the spring and there may be several hundred young mantids that emerge.

Letter 18 – Preying Mantis nymph

 

Praying Mantis
July 9, 2010
My husband found this, what I assume is a young praying mantis, while weed eating around the house. My 3 year old daughter was so excited when she came home, and found him waiting in a jar for her. I am not real pleased with the photo, since I could not get my daughter to stay still, but the little critter is cute none-the-less.
Cassie Shaw
Cleveland, Mississippi

Immature Preying Mantis

Hi Cassie,
Thanks for sending us your photo of an immature Preying Mantis.  It is so nice to see the appreciation of insects as a shared family experience.

Letter 19 – Preying Mantis on Goldenrod

 

Pray to the Mantis
Hello Bug Master.
My daughter and I just found your wonderful site while searching for the name of a bug we commonly see in the northeast but didn’t find the exact species so I will be sure to photograph it next time. I thought everyone might enjoy these shots of this most majestic creature. I was walking in a field of golden rod and wild asparagus enjoying breathtaking views of the Hudson river under the Catskill mountains when my eyes focused on a cluster of brilliant goldenrod and I saw the largest Mantis I could imagine. As I stood still watching in amazement I realized that there were dozens of them all around me warming in the sun waiting for an unsuspecting dragonfly or beetle to wonder past. Truly memorable experience.
Thank-you for creating this wonderful site!
Christopher Waterous

Hi Christopher,
Thank you for the compliment. We remember fondly growing up in Ohio and seeing fields of goldenrod in the fall. On many of the flower tops there awaited huge Preying Mantids waiting for bees, wasps, grasshoppers and locust borers.

Letter 20 – Preying Mantis on Woody Plant

 

Subject:  The Mantis on my Woody Plant is growing
Geographic location of bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date:  7/20/2018
Time:  3:19 PM
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
I am very happy to report that the California Mantis nymph that had been living on my Sweet Sarah clone, but vanished about a week ago, has returned, and now I haven’t seen the Green Lynx Spider.  Seems predators have some sort of hierarchy and now that the molted Mantis has grown, the Green Lynx Spider feels threatened and left.  It is interesting that this Sweet Sarah clone is the only woody plant in the garden has predators.  I wonder why that is.  It is also interesting that the little Grasshoppers that were common about a week ago have vanished, perhaps eaten.
How you want your letter signed:  Constant Gardener

Immature California Mantis

Dear Constant Gardener,
Your supposition of the hierarchy of predation sounds very plausible to us.  Plants give off attractants including odors to attract insects, especially female phytophagous insects that must lay eggs on the proper food plant, but it is also plausible that the smell given off by this particular plant attracts predators that are interested in insects feeding on the plants, which might help explain the disappearance of those immature Grasshoppers. 

Letter 21 – Preying Mantis from Saudi Arabia is Checkered Mantis nymph

 

What kind of mantis is this ?
April 16, 2010
I found it in the desert on in a sandy area.
Jeddah diver
Western Saudi Arabia desert

Unidentified Preying Mantis

Dear Jeddah,
Our initial attempts to identify your Preying Mantis have not produced any results.  Hopefully will will have better luck with additional searching, or perhaps one of our readers can provide an answer.

Update:  April 18, 2010
Thanks to Ben’s comment, we now know that this is a Checkered Mantis, Blepharopsis mendica, though the insectstore website indicates common names Thistle Mantis and Devils Flower Mantis.  Here is some content from that website:  “This species originates from all over Asia and Africa, in countries such as Egypt, Algeria, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Cyprus. Females rarely exceed lengths of 6cm, males a few millimetres shorter. The wings cover the whole abdomen in both sexes. Sex determination is the usual, 8 segments for the male, and 6 or 7 for the female. Another sexual dimorphism is the difference on appearance of the antennae. The males have more feathery, split antennae, and the females long, thin and straight.  As adult, if kept humid, the Blepharopsis will moult into a beautiful lime green specimen, with white dotted wings. They can also take a green form as nymphs; however, it is more common that before adult, they are a light brown, or beige colour.  The abdomen is covered in small, rubbery spines. This helps to camouflage the body within dry bushes or reeds. Nymphs spend most of their lives with their abdomens curled up to their body. It is only as adult that they uncurl, and die to the formation of wings, are then unable to re curl. When gently blown, they will slowly rock from side to side. This is typical behaviour or most cryptic species. This swaying is mimicking a dried leaf or branch swaying in the wind. In a swaying bush, this behaviour could make the mantis go completely unnoticed.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mantis from Mallorca

 

Subject:  Big bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Mallorca
Date: 10/17/2018
Time: 05:11 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We saw this giant bug on the window of our flat and we just don’t know what it is! Please help!
How you want your letter signed:  Daniel Jones

Mantis

Dear Daniel,
This is a predatory male Mantis.  Most sources call them Praying Mantids, but we prefer the more secular name Preying Mantids.

Letter 2 – Mantis from Greece

 

Subject:  What is this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Elounda, Crete, Greece
Date: 09/27/2017
Time: 05:02 AM EDT
Staying in Elounda and this jumped in front of us on to a wall at night, it seemed attracted to the light on the wall.  Saw this and thought at first it might be a grasshopper but unsure?  Then saw this lovely green insect… Any clues please?
How you want your letter signed:  Sue S

Mantis

Dear Sue,
This is a Mantis and we believe it is likely a male Mediterranean Mantis,
Iris oratoria, a species that has been introduced to other parts of the world including North America as this BugGuide image demonstrates.  Your other insect is a Stink Bug.

Dear Daniel
Thank you so very much for your fabulous, speedy response.
Really appreciate your suggestions.
Thanks a lot
Sue 🙂

Letter 3 – Mantis from Argentina

 

Subject: mantis
Location: Argentina
January 16, 2015 1:11 pm
Hello bugman,
We love your site. Wonderful fauna we have in the world and great you let us share in the variety. Now we know a lot better what we see in the house and around it.
We found this beauty in our garden the day before yesterday. We have never seen a mantis like this one before! Have you ever? What is the name of it?
Thank you for your answer.
Signature: Audrey

Mantis
Mantis

Hi Audrey,
Thanks so much for the compliment.  We are posting your submission and we hope to be able to determine the species of your Mantis in the near future.

Mantis
Mantis

Letter 4 – Mantis from Australia

 

Black Spiny Mantis from Australia
Hi guys,
As I mentioned I have been finding lots of new and unusual bugs at my new property. This is the mantis that I found. I had Dave Britton, the entomology collections manager from the Australian Museum, have a look at it and he says it is most probably in the genus Paraoxypilus (Family Amorphoscelidae). It is only about an inch long and very quick.
The site seems to be loading quite quickly now and the new layout makes it heaps easier, thanks for the great effort you guys put in.
aussietrev
Burnett Region, Queensland. Australia

Australian Preying Mantis
Australian Preying Mantis

Hi Trev,
Thanks for sending in another new species for our site, and thanks so much for saving us the time it takes to identify new species. We are thrilled to hear the site is working better for you and we will pass the information on to our web host who spent many long hours trying to make us more efficient.

Letter 5 – Mantis from Australia

 

Subject: aussietrev Micro Mantis
Location: Nth Burnett. Queensland Australia
October 31, 2012 8:16 pm
Hi guys,
hope you and yours are all well after the storm.
I spotted this little guy on my lemon tree. At first I thought it was just another ant looking for scale insects to farm as it scurried along the leaf but then noticed the curled forearms. It really is no bigger than a meat ant as can be seen by the scale in reference to my finger tip and has the same shiny skin which I haven’t seem before on a mantis.
Do you think it is just a juvenile or a micro species?
regards,
Trevor
Signature: Aussietrev

Mantis

Hi Trevor,
My, this Mantis sure has big eyes.  We suspect this is a nymph and not a micro-mantis.  Thanks for another wonderful submission.

Mantis

 

Letter 6 – Mantis from Australia: Sphodropoda species

 

Subject: please ID this bug
Location: Walunga National Park, Swan Valley, WA, Australia
February 24, 2013 1:21 am
I came across this insect in Walunga National Park.
Please could you identify it for me.
Thank you.
Bob Graham

Mantis
Mantis

Hi Bob,
This is some species of Mantis, but we cannot say for certain which species.  We didn’t expect to find your Mantis from Western Australia on the Brisbane Insect website, and we were correct in that expectaion.  We suspect this might be a species confined to your western region and there is not a good insect identification site for that area.

Mantis
Mantis

Identification:  October 14, 2013
Draco just wrote in to identify this as a male Sphodropoda species.


Letter 7 – Mantis from Brazil

 

Subject: Mantid
Location: Fortaleza, Brazil
January 28, 2016 10:12 pm
A mantid found in Fortaleza, Brazil. Found in the daytime on a wall.
Signature: Wesley Neely

Mantis
Mantis

Dear Wesley,
We tried to identify your Mantis to the species level, which we did not think would be too difficult because of the distinctive lobes at the tips of the wings, but alas, we could not find any matching images on Insetologia or on the web in our cursory search.  Perhaps Cesar Crash will have better luck with this one.

Thanks for your help! I have the same issues!

Letter 8 – Mantis from Ibiza

 

Subject: Stick insect?
Location: Ibiza
September 21, 2015 1:40 pm
This little chap leapt from a bush onto a wall on the island of Ibiza, he was around 4inches long. It looks like some kind of stick insect although the head looks too broad. Any ideas?
Thanks
Signature: Steve

Mantis
Mantis

Dear Steve,
This is not a Stick Insect.  It is a predatory Mantis.

Letter 9 – Mantis from South Africa

 

Subject: Large Mantis posing
Location: Cape Town South Africa
April 14, 2016 6:54 am
took pictures from that nice mantis.
she was posing very nice and looked into the lense
size was r.a. 15cm so thats a huge bugger
Signature: ThunderPie

Mantis
Mantis

Dear ThunderPie,
The bright blue color on the inside of the raptorial front leg that is visible in one of your images seems like an excellent identification feature, and that supposition proved correct when we found this matching image of
 Polyspilota aeruginosa on iSpot.  According to Exotic Pets, the common name is the Madagascan Marbled Praying Mantis.  Your individual appears to be a more slender male.

Mantis
Mantis

Letter 10 – Preying Mantis from Cyprus

 

Subject: Hammer head insect
Location: Cyprus
October 10, 2016 2:08 am
Can you please identify this bug?
Signature: Pete Hussey

Preying Mantis
Preying Mantis

Dear Pete,
The simple answer to your question is that this is a Mantis, and she is a female.  We thought it might be easy to identify her to the species level, but we have our doubts.  She is NOT
Sphodromantis viridis, a species pictured on the Biodiversity of Cyprus site, because she lacks the characteristic white spot on her wings.  Three species of Mantis are pictured on the Cyprus Insects and Reptiles site, but the only species that looks close is the Mediterranean Mantis,  Iris oratoria.  Your individual has mottled wings, unlike the images of the Mediterranean Mantis we located on BugGuide (because it was introduced to North America) or on ZipCodeZoo.  A very similar looking Mantis is pictured on the Yorkshire Field Herping and Wildlife Photography site in a 2014 Cyprus posting, but it is identified only as “Mantis Spp.”

Letter 11 – Preying Mantis from Australia

 

What’s this Bug?
Hi Bug Man,
This one was sheltering from thunder by our house in Perth, Western Australia. Any info?
Dom

Hi Dom,
This is a Preying Mantis, but we do not know the species.

Letter 12 – Preying Mantis from Greece lays Ootheca: Ameles spallanzania

 

Praying Mantis laying eggs
January 10, 2010
Dear what’s that bug,
my best wishes for the New Year in order to continue your great job. I found this adult female praying mantis at 25th of December 2009.

Unknown Preying Mantis
 Preying Mantis

Its length is approximately 2cm (0.79inch) and it gave birth at 5th of January 2010. Except of the identification, is it possible to tell me for how long will it live and around what season will the eggs hatch? Are there any special conditions that I should preserve the eggs? Many thanks for your life saving assistance…
Praying Mantis laying eggs
Southern Greece, Northwest of the island of Crete, Municipality of Chania, Kastelli

Mantis laying Ootheca
Mantis laying Ootheca

We are uncertain of the species, and we spent a bit of time trying to research Greek mantises.  This is a small mantis, and we hope one of our readers can supply a species identification.  In colder climates, the ootheca or egg case passes the winter and hatches in the spring.  In milder climates, we would expect the ootheca to take several months to hatch.  You do not need to give the ootheca any special care.  Your photos are very nice.

Unknown Preying Mantis
Preying Mantis

Karl delivers an identification
Hi Daniel:
There are at least two species of tiny mantids in the region, the common European dwarf mantis (Ameles spallanzania) and the much rarer Geomantie larvoides. Both are less than 3 cm in size and both show considerable color variation. However, G. larvoides has round eyes and is completely wingless in both sexes, while A. spallanzania has more typically conical eyes and only the females are flightless, although they do retain small vestigial wings. The wide upturned female abdomen is also notable for A. spallanzania. Therefore, I think this is likely a species of Amelas, quite possibly A. spallanzania. Regards.
Karl

Letter 13 – Preying Mantis from Kenya

 

Subject: 2nd mantis from Kenya
Location: Sengera, Kenya
January 12, 2013 4:32 pm
This is my other mantis. This one has been seen before out there. This one was discovered in our kitchen. Looks quite a beast too!
Signature: Ben Fiddes

Mantis

Hi again Ben,
We are going to have to defer to any Mantis experts out there to identify this Preying Mantis to the species level.  It is not as distinctive as your immature Spiny Flower Mantis.

Mantis

Letter 14 – Preying Mantis from South Africa

 

Springbok Mantis?
Location: Grootwater, Limpopo, South Africa
July 26, 2011 3:32 am
Hello Bugman,
Going through some photo’s from my stay in South Africa and found these pictures of my close encounter with a praying mantis. A few of my South African friends said it is probably a inmature springbok Mantis, but this is probably a local name for the fellow. Could you guys be more specific?
Signature: Jan

Preying Mantis

Hi Jan,
We have learned in doing the research for this posting that the Springbok Mantis is native to South Africa, but it has gained notoriety because it was accidentally introduced to New Zealand where it is displacing the native Mantids.  We cannot say for certain that your individual is or is not an immature Springbok Mantis.  The stance and carriage of the abdomen is unusual, though not unique among Mantids.  We cannot locate a photo of an immature Springbok Mantis for comparison, and the photos of adult Springbok Mantids do not show that particular body stance.  You can read about the Springbok Mantis in New Zealand on the Radio Live website and this Hello PHoto Blog.

Immature Preying Mantis, but what species???

Letter 15 – Preying Mantis in a Shoebox

 

Hi there,
I love your website, and find myself checking it regularly. I thought you might like a couple of photos I took. The praying mantis was rescued from a busy sidewalk/parking lot where she was about to get squashed. I let her go in my garden. She is having her first look at freedom and me from the shoebox I used to capture her.
Grace E. Pedalino
Troy, Virginia

Hi Grace,
Thank you for all of your photos. We will be posting several. Your Preying Mantis is just about the cutest bug on the planet. Check out Grace’s awesome Wolf Spider photo and Walking Stick photo.

Letter 16 – Preying Mantis in Threat Position

 


Hello, my friend found this strange looking bug in her lawn. She jingled her car keys next to it and it proceeded to do what it is doing in the picture. Arms and wings out, with what looks to be teeth bared. To me it looks like some kind of praying mantis but we just can’t figure it out. Can you help? It looks like something out of a movie!
Bethany

Hi Bethany,
What a marvelous image of a Preying Mantis assuming its “Threat Posture”.

Letter 17 – Preying Mantis lays Ootheca

 

Subject: Praying Mantis with egg case
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
September 5, 2012 4:52 pm
Hello. I was fortunate to see this praying mantis laying an egg case. I am wondering — how long until it hatches? How many young are likely to emerge? Are there signs that it is about to hatch?
I live in Scottsdale, AZ (Phoenix area), and this photo was taken on August 31, 2012.
Thank you for your web fascinating web site!
Signature: Lucille

Preying Mantis lays Ootheca

Hi Lucille,
We are guessing that this might be
Stagmomantis limbata.  We hope one of our readers will be able to confirm or correct the species identification.  BugGuide states:  “Overwinter as eggs; hatch in spring or early summer; adults mostly in summer and autumn. Females in particular may sometimes survive well into winter.”  We suspect this ootheca may hatch in the spring and there may be several hundred young mantids that emerge.

Letter 18 – Preying Mantis nymph

 

Praying Mantis
July 9, 2010
My husband found this, what I assume is a young praying mantis, while weed eating around the house. My 3 year old daughter was so excited when she came home, and found him waiting in a jar for her. I am not real pleased with the photo, since I could not get my daughter to stay still, but the little critter is cute none-the-less.
Cassie Shaw
Cleveland, Mississippi

Immature Preying Mantis

Hi Cassie,
Thanks for sending us your photo of an immature Preying Mantis.  It is so nice to see the appreciation of insects as a shared family experience.

Letter 19 – Preying Mantis on Goldenrod

 

Pray to the Mantis
Hello Bug Master.
My daughter and I just found your wonderful site while searching for the name of a bug we commonly see in the northeast but didn’t find the exact species so I will be sure to photograph it next time. I thought everyone might enjoy these shots of this most majestic creature. I was walking in a field of golden rod and wild asparagus enjoying breathtaking views of the Hudson river under the Catskill mountains when my eyes focused on a cluster of brilliant goldenrod and I saw the largest Mantis I could imagine. As I stood still watching in amazement I realized that there were dozens of them all around me warming in the sun waiting for an unsuspecting dragonfly or beetle to wonder past. Truly memorable experience.
Thank-you for creating this wonderful site!
Christopher Waterous

Hi Christopher,
Thank you for the compliment. We remember fondly growing up in Ohio and seeing fields of goldenrod in the fall. On many of the flower tops there awaited huge Preying Mantids waiting for bees, wasps, grasshoppers and locust borers.

Letter 20 – Preying Mantis on Woody Plant

 

Subject:  The Mantis on my Woody Plant is growing
Geographic location of bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date:  7/20/2018
Time:  3:19 PM
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
I am very happy to report that the California Mantis nymph that had been living on my Sweet Sarah clone, but vanished about a week ago, has returned, and now I haven’t seen the Green Lynx Spider.  Seems predators have some sort of hierarchy and now that the molted Mantis has grown, the Green Lynx Spider feels threatened and left.  It is interesting that this Sweet Sarah clone is the only woody plant in the garden has predators.  I wonder why that is.  It is also interesting that the little Grasshoppers that were common about a week ago have vanished, perhaps eaten.
How you want your letter signed:  Constant Gardener

Immature California Mantis

Dear Constant Gardener,
Your supposition of the hierarchy of predation sounds very plausible to us.  Plants give off attractants including odors to attract insects, especially female phytophagous insects that must lay eggs on the proper food plant, but it is also plausible that the smell given off by this particular plant attracts predators that are interested in insects feeding on the plants, which might help explain the disappearance of those immature Grasshoppers. 

Letter 21 – Preying Mantis from Saudi Arabia is Checkered Mantis nymph

 

What kind of mantis is this ?
April 16, 2010
I found it in the desert on in a sandy area.
Jeddah diver
Western Saudi Arabia desert

Unidentified Preying Mantis

Dear Jeddah,
Our initial attempts to identify your Preying Mantis have not produced any results.  Hopefully will will have better luck with additional searching, or perhaps one of our readers can provide an answer.

Update:  April 18, 2010
Thanks to Ben’s comment, we now know that this is a Checkered Mantis, Blepharopsis mendica, though the insectstore website indicates common names Thistle Mantis and Devils Flower Mantis.  Here is some content from that website:  “This species originates from all over Asia and Africa, in countries such as Egypt, Algeria, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Cyprus. Females rarely exceed lengths of 6cm, males a few millimetres shorter. The wings cover the whole abdomen in both sexes. Sex determination is the usual, 8 segments for the male, and 6 or 7 for the female. Another sexual dimorphism is the difference on appearance of the antennae. The males have more feathery, split antennae, and the females long, thin and straight.  As adult, if kept humid, the Blepharopsis will moult into a beautiful lime green specimen, with white dotted wings. They can also take a green form as nymphs; however, it is more common that before adult, they are a light brown, or beige colour.  The abdomen is covered in small, rubbery spines. This helps to camouflage the body within dry bushes or reeds. Nymphs spend most of their lives with their abdomens curled up to their body. It is only as adult that they uncurl, and die to the formation of wings, are then unable to re curl. When gently blown, they will slowly rock from side to side. This is typical behaviour or most cryptic species. This swaying is mimicking a dried leaf or branch swaying in the wind. In a swaying bush, this behaviour could make the mantis go completely unnoticed.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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24 thoughts on “Where Do Praying Mantis Live: Exploring Their Natural Habitats”

  1. Dear Jeddah,
    This looks like a nymph of a checkered mantis, Blepharopsis mendica. This species is not uncommon here in Israel, so it is likely native to Saudi Arabia as well.
    Great picture!
    Ben

    Reply
  2. Thank you Ben for the info.
    It is amazing how such a delicate and sophisticated insect lives in a dry, hot, barren land with so little to feed on, I found this guy on a dry piece of wood branch I was about to use to lit a fire in that desert evening. I think there were not a single tree or plant in at least 2 Kilometer radius!

    Reply
  3. Probably a hatchling of Hierodula sp, since they live in rainforests. Not sure of exact species. There are probably about 10? or so species of Hierodula mantis in Australia, so that should narrow down the search.

    Reply
  4. It is a male mantis of the genus Sphodromantis, which is widespread throughout Africa. I am not sure of the exact species although you may want to look up for Sphodromantis sp. from Kenya

    Reply
  5. The angle doesn’t seem to help. It seems to me by the shape of eyes and the tip of the wings, that it is a dead leaf mimic in the family Acanthopidae, Acanthops, Decimiana and Metilia are simmilar. César Favacho helps me with mantises, he maybe take a look here.

    Reply
  6. Hello guys, this is an adult female of Decimiana. I can’t tell the species because there are no records of decimiana from Fortaleza, or even the whole Ceará state.
    Have a good night 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you so much César. We are very excited that What’s That Bug? and Insetologia are now sharing experts in the field to help answer questions for our curious readerships.

      Reply
  7. Hello guys, this is an adult female of Decimiana. I can’t tell the species because there are no records of decimiana from Fortaleza, or even the whole Ceará state.
    Have a good night 🙂

    Reply

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