There are more than 2,400 mantis species. They are between 1 and 16 cm long predatory insects that eat other insects and spiders. Some larger species can even take lizards and small birds.
Appearance and characteristics
Unlike most other insects the praying mantis can turn its triangular head around almost 300 degrees.
It has three simple ocelli and two very large facet eyes with up to 10,000 ommatidia. The ommatidia that are directed forward have very good visual acuity while the surrounding ommatidia detect movements.
Feeding and catching
Mantises are diurnal ambush predators sitting still, waiting for unsuspicious prey to stray too near rapidly catching it with their forelegs.
The front legs are grasping and spiked. The praying mantis hold these legs as in prayer when they are waiting for prey which has given this insect group its name.
All mantises are camouflage coloured to blend in with the environment and some look like leaves, branches, bark or flowers.
In some species the female eats the male during mating. She starts with eating his head but the male can still carry out the mating.