One of the most interesting insects in the world is the praying mantis. Sometimes people call it “the Sooth-sayer”, “Rearhorse”, or “Mule- Killer”. The name Mule-Killer comes from the belief that the saliva of this insect can poison mules. The mantis is a long, slender insect that seems to be praying when it is standing still. The large front legs are held up in such a way that it gives the impression of being in prayer.
But the mantis is not “praying” at all—it is really “preying”. In fact, it is one of the most bloodthirsty creatures known and might be called a murderer and a cannibal. The mantis lives on other insects. It captures them by sitting still with its traplike front feet ready to snap at the first insect that comes by. That is why the front legs are held up—to be always ready. On the inside of those legs are sharp claws to hold the victim.
The praying mantis moves about by walking on its four hind legs or by flying. The mantis is also said to be the only insect that can turn its head around and look over its shoulders. When another insect, such as a fly, comes along, the mantis shoots those front legs out, catches it, holds it firmly, and slowly eats it. The mantis family has about 800 species. About 20 species are found in North America, all of which have brown or green wings and are about five centimeters long.
How Many Different Species Of Praying Mantis Are There?
There are about 1,800 species of praying mantids around the world.