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PRAYING MANTIS – The giants among insects

Praying mantises are one of the fascinating insects you will ever find. They have a certain sense of character and personality. Apart from their interesting look, they have unique forelegs that are held up under their heads, making them look as if they are praying, hence the name ‘praying mantis.’ What’s more is they have a pretty creepy reproductive trait, which might give you chills – sexual cannibalism. Many people keep praying mantis as pets in a terrarium. With over 2400 species of mantis known, these insects have broadened their habitat, and today, they are found all over the world. Depending on the species, they can live up to 4-6 months. Smaller ones have a smaller lifespan, ranging from 4-8 weeks. 

If you are an entomophile (a person who loves insects) and recently a praying mantis has captured your attention, this post will help you learn more about this insect species and disclose some amazing facts. 

Praying Mantis has a Great Vision 

Mantises have five eyes! Two compound eyes and three normal eyes. Apparently, praying mantises can see in 3D. Yes, you heard that right. Unlike other insects, praying mantises have stereo vision, all thanks to how their eyes are placed. Their big bulky eyes give them a wide field of vision. There is a concentrated area called ‘fovea’ in each of their eyes that contains photoreceptor cells allowing them to focus and track with acuity. This enables them to see movements that are undetectable by humans. Scientists believe that studying mantises could help them make significant discoveries in eye health and develop a better vision in robots. 

Mantises Engage in Risky Sex 

Mantises engage in sexual intercourse that lasts for up to three hours. Female mantises are generally larger in size because they lay a large bunch of eggs at once – about 400. And to lay eggs, they need a lot of energy. Guess what they do? Female mantises literally bite off the head of the male mantises after sex and devour them. Only a few insect species engage in this sort of coital cannibalism. This is the reason why mantises are among the most studied insect species. 

Mantises only Eat Live Food 

Mantises prefer their food to be moving while they devour it. Many farmers and farms establish mantis colonies as they are helpful in pest control. While they essentially prey on potentially destructive insects like grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles, large species prey on small birds, lizards, frogs, and other animals. Yes, they can easily kill a hummingbird. Because they are the masters of disguise, they come in the form of branches, sticks, and leaves. There are some species of mantises that are wildly ornate and resemble a flower. They look so convincing that unsuspecting birds and insects come to them with the hope of collecting nectar and ends up being their dinner. 

Bats are by far their Biggest Predators 

Bats love eating praying mantises, but they are no easy victims. Praying mantises use the same ultrasonic frequency used by bats to sense any moving objects or things around them. But when bats approach them, mantises can sense their echolocation sounds and immediately look for cover. And if caught, they have big spikey forelegs that they use to cut and slash their prey. Fortunate ones survive, while others just become dinner. The primary reason mantises are vulnerable to bats is that they are diurnal insects, meaning they hunt and work only during the day. At night, if they don’t hide properly, they become easy prey. 

Praying Mantis Poses no Danger to Humans 

Unlike many other insects that are dangerous and harmful to humans, praying mantises pose no harm. While they are dangerous to their prey and even their own kind, you don’t need to worry about them. Because they look creepy with their big giant head and spikey forelegs, people often wonder, ‘do they bite?’ They may bite you if you approach them aggressively, but their bites do little damage and are typically rare. This is why many hobbyists love to keep them as pets. Unlike other pets, they make little to no mess, don’t require any attention, and are pretty easy to care for. Given that you provide them with the ideal living environment, they will live happily ever after. In the US, it is legal to sell praying mantises as pets, but only native species. 

Mantis Inspired 2 Martial Arts Forms 

Mantises are incredible predators, and this is why there are two distinctive martial arts forms that copy their moves and instincts. They are – Southern Praying Mantis Style and Northern Praying Mantis Style. Southern Style favors close-range fighting while Northern Style prefers aggressiveness. 

Final Words 

There is still more information to collect about this amazing species. They are inspiring humans every day, whether it is technology or life. What do you think about mantises? Do tell us.