Praying Mantis

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Praying mantises are known for their cannibalistic females, but there is much more to the insects. The name has its root in Greek meaning prophet or soothsayer. Out of approximately 2,000 species only 18 are native to North America. However, if you notice a big one, it’s probably the Chinese mantis or the European mantis, which were introduced to the continent around a century years ago.

The whole family of mantids shares one unique trait in the insect world: The little creatures can rotate their had a full 180 degrees. Meaning, there is no other insect capable of giving you the iconic ‘over the shoulder’ pose. And that ‘female eats the male after (and sometimes actually before) the copulation’ part? Occurs mostly in the lab. Scientist believe that in the wild up to 70 % of males actually survive the romantic encounter. You can determine the sex of a praying mantis by the number of segments on its tail.

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