Living Praying Mantis on display in the Cockrell Butterfly Center

highly camouflaged - the better to snag a meal

Praying mantises (or mantids, Order: Mantodea) are a diverse group of carnivorous insects. They are found all over the world, especially in the tropics.

Mantises are characterized by their triangle-shaped heads, large eyes, long “necks” and raptorial (grasping) front legs. They have very acute vision and are the only insects able to turn their heads nearly 300 degrees! This makes them very efficient predators. They use the sit and wait method, their camouflage hiding them from potential victims.  When an unwary insect gets too close, it is quickly snagged by those grasping front legs.

Most mantises are highly camouflaged, some spectacularly so. The beautiful orchid mantis, for example, comes in pink or white and looks almost exactly like an orchid petal.

We have several different species on display:

Orchid Mantis 
Hymenopus coronatus

Dead Leaf Mantis  
Deroplatys dessicata

Malaysian Shield Mantis  
Rhombodera sp.

Carolina Mantis   
 Stagmomantis carolina

Giant Asian Mantis 
Hierodula membranacea

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