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Praying mantids

Mantis religiosa

These are large insects, from 4.7 to 5.6 cm long, pale green to greyish-brown in colour. They are easily recognizable by their characteristic grasping forelegs, adapted to capturing prey, and their long “neck,” or prothorax.

The very mobile head has a pair of antennae and ends in a small mouth. With their large compound eyes and three simple eyes, praying mantids have exceptionally good vision for insects.

Two pairs of wings are attached to the thorax. Long, slender forewings protect the second pair of wings, normally folded, that open up like fans.

Females are much larger than males.



Mantids are among the most recognizable insects. Their characteristic prayer-like posture, with folded forelimbs close to its thorax, is what earned them the common name of praying mantis. They have a very mobile triangular head and large compound eyes. Their broad, spiny forelegs are used to capture living prey.

In many species, the females are wingless or short-winged. Males have two pairs of wings and use them to fly to their partners.

The mantid species found in Canada and the United States belong to the Mantidae family. They are brown, green or grey, and blend in with the colour of the surrounding vegetation and bark.

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