Praying Mantis at Lopatcong, NJ
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – LOPATCONG, NJ
This photograph of a Praying Mantis among the flowers was taken by Donna A. Fiore in the rural town of Lopatcong, NJ using a Nikon D200 camera.
Mantodea (or mantises, mantes) is an order of insects that contains over 2,400 valid species and about 430 genera in 15 families worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. Most of the species are in the family Mantidae.
The English common name for any species in the order is “praying mantis“, because of the typical “prayer-like” posture with folded fore-limbs, although the eggcorn “preying mantis” is sometimes used in reference to their predatory habits. In Europe and other regions, the name “praying mantis” refers to only a single species, Mantis religiosa. The closest relatives of mantises are the termites and cockroaches (order Blattodea). They are sometimes confused with phasmids (stick/leaf insects) and other elongated insects such as grasshoppers and crickets.
- Three distinct body regions: head, thorax (where the legs and wings are attached), abdomen.
- Part of the thorax is elongated to create a distinctive ‘neck’.
- Front legs modified as raptorial graspers with strong spikes for grabbing and holding prey.
- Large compound eyes on the head which moves freely around (up to 180°) and three simple eyes between the compound eyes.
- Incomplete or simple metamorphosis (hemimetabolous).
Adult Males and Females Females usually have heavier abdomen and are larger than males.
Food Praying mantids are highly predacious and feed on a variety of insects, including moths, crickets, grasshoppers and flies. They lie in wait with the front legs in an upraised position. They intently watch and stalk their prey. They will eat each other.
Habitat Praying mantids are often protectively colored to the plants they live on. This camouflage facilitates their predaceous behavior. Mantids are usually found on plants that have other insects around. Some mantids live in grass. Winged adults may be attracted to black lights in late summer and early fall.
Interesting Behaviors The adult female usually eats the male after or during mating. Mantid’s grasping response is incredibly rapid, so that you see it before it catches the insect and when the insect is in its front legs. The motion is barely a blur if it is perceived at all.