Lane County, Oregon

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Mantis religiosa

A few days ago I was in  my chair looking out the window when I noticed a shadow of some monstrous insect climbing near my window screen. What the heck is that huge thing, I muttered to myself while grabbing my camera and flying out the door. Well, it was something I hadn't seen in a long time --. a very large praying mantis. 

Now these guys are not the friendliest insects to handle unless you know what you are doing. My daughter was mildly bit by one a couple years ago when she tried to pick one up to show her daughter. So I wasn't in the mood to move the insect around for different photo shots, So, the above is the only position I captured. 

There are three different types of praying mantis that reside in Kentucky all falling under a group called the Matids.I identified mine as a Chinese praying mantis or more correctly -- a Mantid. I will use praying mantis and Chinese Mantid interchangeably.

This Chinese Mantid usually grows 3 to 5 inches long, is an import from about 75 years ago, and is the largest Mantid found in our state. The one I was looking at was about 5 inches! He was brown colored which threw me. I had always thought Matids were green. I got online with a few sources and found that the Chinese praying mantis can be either green or brown. 

Fall is the time when Mantids are mating. Now if I was a male I would hesitate to get mixed up with the female for mating purposes. If during copulation the female gets a notion, she swivels her head (which can rotate 180 degrees as can the males) and decapitate the male. Ouch! So much for good sex. 

The female lays between 12 and 400 eggs in a hard-case shell lined with frothy juice in the fall. In the spring the juveniles emerge and oftentimes their first meal consists of a few of their siblings.  Ouch again. 

Overall. the praying mantis is a deadly predator. 

An interesting fact about the Chinese praying mantis is it has an ear in its abdomen area that picks up ultra-high frequencies that possibly might help in finding a mate or knowing a predator is nearby. They are the only known animal with only one ear. 

A little folklore is known about the Mantids. One, is that the Greeks thought they were prophets and two, the Chinese used them for various medicinal purposes.

A beautiful and intriguing insect but deadly for both beneficial and non-beneficial insects.

To find out other information about the praying mantis I would suggest the following sites:

This is a Sunday Simplicities post reflecting my outlook on life. Now in retirement I am observing new horizons -- opportunities have surfaced.  Economies have changed as well as my perspective on what is truly important in my simple life.  Stay tuned. 


  1. Ahhh, yes, these critters stalk my hubby but give me not even a 2nd glance LOL.

  2. Barbara!
    You win the prize...! I have looked and looked and looked to see ANY Praying Mantis this year, and have't found even one. MM says he's seen several three-inchers, but I've missed those, too. I love them. They are such an important component in pest control. I have been of the opinion that they, like Chameleons, change colors from brown to green or back, depending upon the cover they are in. Maybe true. Maybe not. What a find! A five-incher is amazing. And, yes....they bite! But you can dodge it if you know ahead of time.

    Thanks much for this delightful photo.


  3. Oh, he's elegant! I rarely see them in my neck of the woods. What a treat. Interesting post.

  4. Jayne -- Perhaps they are females that stalk your husband? They do bite so tell him to watch out! I should comment that because they bite there is no reason to kill them. They are part of the natural system of pest control. Their bite does not mean you will suffer. -- barbara

  5. willow -- yes, he is quite elegant with his slender body and legs. The praying mantis blends so well with its surrounding it is difficult to spot them Perhaps they are around your place but well hidden in matching foliage cover. -- barbara

  6. Elora -- you said that you thought that the praying mantis would adopt the color of the foliage it was on. I thought the same thing. The University of Kentucky, Department of Entomology said they are either brown or green. But does mean brown sometimes and green other times? I took it that they were either brown or green. Semantics can give double meanings. -- barbara

  7. I photographed one not long ago - also brown. I'd always though they got brown as they matured.

  8. Vicki -- thanks for the comment. According to the University of Kentucky Entomology Department these paying mantis can be brown or green. Elora suggested that perhaps they can change colors between brown and green? Not sure about the color changing as they age? -- barbara

  9. Hubby is the sort who captures every spider in the house and gently releases it out the back in the wild garden, nothing gets killed here, except the odd fly in Summer with a fly-swat ;)

  10. Jayne -- How nice that he spares the small creatures their life. Like that you have a wild garden. I feel a fly is hard not to swat! -- barbara

  11. Oh, what a handsome one! I haven't seen any mantids this year. I thought that mantis was singular and mantids was plural, but don't know where I might have read that. You can buy mantid egg cases for your garden, all-purpose organic insect control!

  12. I had no idea that they these lovely fellows bite. They are a favourite of mine, along with dragonflies. I haven't seen a mantis that size in my area. Just beautiful.

  13. barefootheart -- since I am an amateur naturalist, forever learning the ways of the natural world, I have to depend on science references for my knowledge. The mantis and mantid, singular and plural reference sounds like it would be true but on checking back with my source the University of Kentucky Entomology Department, this is what they had to say: "mantis refers to the genus Mantis. Only some praying mantids belong to the genus Mantis. Mantid refers to the entire group." Isn't is great we now have such knowledge at our fingertips online! Thanks for the very nice comment. -- barbara

  14. LiD -- they do bite as my daughter will attest. They certainly are fascinating creatures. Dragonflies are beautiful with what I call gossamer wings. -- barbara