Praying Mantis (Dictyopetra)

praying mantis The name mantis is derived from the Greek word meaning prophet or soothsayer (as also does the epithet praying) and refers to the habitual attitude of the insect ? standing motionless on its four hind legs with fore-legs raised as if doing prayer. It is actually waiting for an unwary insect to stray within its reach to be attacked and savoured.

The fore-legs are spined and the joints called the 'tibia' can be snapped back against the feamur, somewhat like the blade of a pen-knife snapping into the handle. This forms a pair of grasping organs which seize the prey and then keep a hold on the unfortunate victim.

Mantises feed mainly on other insects and are mostly found in tropical and sub-tropical countries. The smallest are about an inch (2.5cm) long. They have narrowed leathery fore- legs and large fan-shaped hind legs which are folded beneath the fore wings when not in use. Most mantises can fly but they do not readily take to flight and rarely go very far. There are about 1800 species of known mantises. The most familiar Indian species are Miderodula Coartota and Gongylus Gongyloides.