Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa)

The European or "Praying" Mantis is Connecticut's official state insect and an unmatched pint-sized predator.
These large insects have been recorded preying on such native animals as young garter snakes, adult Gray Tree frogs and even Ruby Throated hummingbirds! A mantis's lightning reflexes, powerful, spiked forelegs and slicing mandibles (mouthparts) make it a formidable predator.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo often exhibits Praying Mantises hatched from oothecas found right here on Zoo grounds. Look for these amazing insects on exhibit in our New England Farmyard barn.

Description: 

Large (2.5 to 4 inch), long-bodied, green to brownish insects flying insects with triangular heads and folding spiked forelegs

Habitat: 

Deciduous woodlands and thickets.

Range: 

Introduced into eastern North America. Native to Northern Africa, Southern Europe and mild areas of Asia.

Diet: 

Aphids, flies, grasshoppers, caterpillars, moths, other mantises and occasionally small vertebrates.

Life Span: 

Typically 6 months, varying with temperature. Mantises usually hatch out in May or early June, grow rapidly and die with the arrival of cold weather.

Family Life: 

In May or early June, two hundred or more mantises hatch from their mother's egg case (ootheca). Mantises are cannibalistic so that those hatchlings that don't disperse quickly are soon eaten by their brothers and sisters. Mantises are solitary except for breeding when males and females come together. Females often eat the males after breeding. This provides the mantis mom-to-be with vital nutrition and energy to produce her ootheca. The female will deposit her ootheca along the branches of trees and bushes where it will remain for the winter until the young are ready to hatch the following spring.

Status: 

Protected in Connecticut due to their valuable role as insect pest predators. Mantises are relatively common yet not often seen due to their excellent camouflage.


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