The name, praying mantis, has always managed to fascinate me. Why ‘praying’? It was until I saw a photo of the insect that I realized why it was named that way.
This particular organism has an upright posture and its arms are folded when they are not being moved. This makes it look like they are praying and hence the name- ‘praying mantis’.
Praying mantises have various characteristics that make them extremely fun to study and fascinating to learn about. Our article, will on some amazing praying mantis facts for kids give you all the information you might need to answer your little one.
11 Interesting & Fun Facts about Praying Mantis for Kids
Praying mantises’ bodies are specifically made for hunting. They are known for their ambush attacks. There are around 2400 mantis species which might seem like a lot but people do not even realize that.
You might be wondering what happens if someone decides to hunt these creatures. Unfortunately, there are however, no legal ramifications for killing mantises.
With that short introduction, let us take a look at some of the amazing facts about the praying mantis.
1. Their name has a Greek origin
An interesting fact about these creatures is the origin of their names. Praying mantises’ name has a Greek origin. It comes from the Greek word ‘mantikos’. This word means Prophet.
2. Praying mantises are generally found in tropic regions
Praying mantises are generally found in tropical areas. There are about 18 species that are native to North America. What is funny about this fact is that one can find more exotic species of the creature than the native ones in North America!
3. Mantises and cockroaches have a common ancestor
One look at the flying mantises and cockroaches, and it is not difficult to realize that these two species have evolved from a common ancestor. They are classified into a group called Dictyoptera- based on their evolutionary relationships.
4. There are different types of mantises based on wing sizes
There are various classifications of the praying mantises based on their wing sizes. They can be long-winged ones (macropterous), short-winged (brachypterous), and wingless ones (apterous).
The ones with the wings have two sets of them; one set is much stronger than the other one.
5. They have great sight and a flexible neck
Praying mantises have brilliant eyesight. They can locate their prey from a distance and their peripheral visions help them detect motion. They have eyes on their lateral sides and this helps them get a wide vision.
Another amazing fact about these creatures is that they are able to rotate their necks to almost 180 degrees. Their necks are remarkably flexible.
6. Praying mantises practice cannibalism
Usually, we barely find animals, birds or insects that regularly practice cannibalism. However, that is not the case for the praying mantises. The bigger ones generally cannibalize the smaller ones.
Not only that, but during mating, the females bite off the heads of the males and feed on them!
7. These creatures can be a biological pest
The praying mantises are a great way to control pests. They feed on various insects and caterpillars and hence, they are helping in protecting the crops. A lot of companies sell mantis eggs to farmers to get rid of pests.
8. Mantises can camouflage themselves and are known for ambush techniques
Mantises have various predators like the birds, lizards, spiders, frogs, and many others. This is why they have learned to expertly camouflage themselves. The flower mantises can resemble the flowers. Some others can resemble the small twigs to the trees and escape being hunted down.
This characteristic of them also gives them an advantage when it comes to hunting. They are able to hide quite well and wait for their prey to come closer without detection.
9. Praying mantises have echolocation detection
Some species of the praying mantises have the capability to detect echolocation sounds that are made by bats. They often change their flying positions based on the frequency.
10. These creatures have influenced martial arts in China
Praying mantises’ moves while hunting are quick and precise. This is the reason why in China, a lot of moves in martial arts are heavily influenced by the movements of these creatures.
This makes so much more sense now after we all saw Mantis in Kung Fu Panda being one of the top students in martial arts!
11. Praying mantises have their place in myths and religion
One can find the praying mantis in various myths, especially in the African culture. In Southern Africa, the people from the Khoi community refer to praying mantis as hottentotsgot (God of the Khoi).
In the Luo culture, it is believed that if a praying mantis is potted in the house, it is a sign that they will have guests the next day.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is the Praying mantis scientific name?
The scientific name of the praying mantis is Mantodea.
Q. Are praying mantis insects?
Yes, praying mantis are indeed insects.
Q. How did the praying mantis get its name?
The praying mantis got its name from the Greek word ‘mantikos’ which means Prophet.
Q. Where do praying mantises live?
One can find praying mantises in tropical areas in the forests, deserts or grasslands.
Q. What does praying mantis eat and drink?
Praying mantises have a huge variety of bugs, caterpillars and insects that they feed on. They also have water from droplets on the leaves.
Q. How big do praying mantises get?
Depending on the species and age of the mantis, they can grow up to 6 inches.
Q. What is the lifespan of a praying mantis?
Smaller ones may live for 6 weeks while the bigger ones can live for 4-6 months.
Q. What comes out of a praying mantis when it dies?
Often, praying mantises are selected as hosts by Horsehair worms. Thus, when a praying mantis dies, this parasitic worm often comes out from the host’s body.
Q. Do praying mantises play dead?
Yes, many species of the praying mantis often play dead to avoid capture.
Q. Do praying mantises die in the winter?
Praying mantises need tropical weather to survive and hence, cold weather eventually kills them.
Q. Why does a praying mantis eat its mate?
The females often end up eating the males during breeding. It has been concluded that this is done for the nutrition which later helps them lay eggs.
Q. How many eyes does a praying mantis have?
A praying mantis has 2 large compound eyes places laterally and three simpler eyes in between them.
Q. Is it safe to pick up a praying mantis?
One should always avoid picking up a praying mantis and should just let them crawl on the hands.
Q. How smart are praying mantis?
Praying mantises are incredibly smart and are known to learn from their experiences.
Q. Are praying mantis and walking sticks the same?
No, praying mantises and walking sticks are different insects.
Q. What does it mean when a praying mantis’ eyes turn black?
The black dots on a praying mantis’ eyes are an optical illusion caused due to light being absorbed and reflected.
Q. Are praying mantises dangerous? Can a praying mantis hurt you?
No, praying mantises are of no danger to humans and cannot hurt them in any way.
The praying mantises are harmless insects that have managed to influence culture, religion and even martial arts with their amazing characteristics.
Well, that was the end of the article ‘11 Amazing Praying Mantis Facts for Kids’. I hope you had a great time reading about these fascinating creatures.