There are almost 2,000 kinds (species) of preying mantis around the world. They are found in North and South America, South Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia. There are 3 kinds (species) in North America. The Carolina mantis is the only one that is native to North America. Both the Chinese and European mantises were brought to North America in the mid 1900s to eat garden pests. Now all 3 are found in North America in the wild.
They live in meadows and fields.
They are green, tan or brown with a long, thin body and longer wings, reaching 2-3" long. They have big, powerful eyes and can turn their head to look for prey. Their eyes can see anything move up to 60 feet away. They have strong jaws for eating its prey. Their front legs have rows of sharp spines that they use to hold their prey.
They live alone. They sit with their front legs held up together so that it looks like praying. They wait without moving and blend in so well that they are almost invisible. When prey comes by, they grab it. They bite the neck of its prey to paralyze it and eat it while it's still alive.
They eat other insects, including other mantises and spiders.
The female lays up to 400 eggs in the fall. She makes a foam cover that hardens into a shell that protects the eggs through the winter. Babies hatch out in the spring and eat the other babies.
Species: M. religiosa
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Amsel, Sheri. "Praying Mantis" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2018. February 21, 2018
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