The Praying Mantid is a carnivorous insect that contains approximately 2,200 species in at least 15 families, although most live in the family Mantidae. The colloquial name ‘Praying Mantis’ comes from the prayer-like stance that it adopts when it is searching for food.
The size of the Praying Mantis can vary from 2/5 - 12 inches depending on its species. Their colours too can also vary from light greens to pinks. Most mantids are green or brown.
As mentioned before, the Praying Mantis is a carnivorous insect. When at rest, the Mantis’ front legs are held up into its body, as though it is praying. These front legs are lined with rows of sharp spines that act as friction so they can keep hold of their prey. When situated on a leaf, Mantis’ can appear almost invisible and they will wait unmoving and ready to latch onto any insect that passes them. When prey gets close to the Mantis, it thrusts out its front legs to catch it. Before they eat, the Mantis bites the neck of its prey to paralyze it.
Praying Mantises most commonly eat insects and other invertebrates such as beetles, spiders, butterflies, crickets, grasshoppers and even other mantises. They have also been known to eat small vertebrates such as frogs, lizards and mice. Mantises with certain colours can also camouflage themselves as flowers and catch small hummingbirds and other nesting birds.