The praying mantis is an insect found in temperate and tropical habitats worldwide, with 2400 species making up the order Mantodea. The mantis’ upper body, called the prothorax, is flexible and allows for a wide range of movement of the head and forelimbs. Some species can rotate the head 180 degrees.
Mantids are diurnal and rely on their acute vision to locate prey. Their large, compound eyes are widely spaced and each has a dark spot called a pseudo pupil. They have an impressive visual range of up to 20 yards.
For close-ups, mantids have very precise stereoscopic vision similar to humans. We are able to see an object using both eyes, with each eye seeing a slightly different view. Our brains combine the information to create a 3-D image.
Camouflage allows them to ambush their prey, which they capture using two spiked forelimbs. They eat their prey alive by slicing and chewing the prey with mouthparts called mandibles.
The mature female invests the energy obtained from her food to produce eggs following a courtship and mating period in autumn. She lays between 10 and 400 eggs, which she deposits in a foamy mass that dries and hardens. The young mantids typically emerge the following spring.