This page contains pictures and information about praying mantids,
or praying mantis, that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
- Praying Mantid - The Predator
Praying Mantids are from medium to large size insects. They are predators
to other insects, with strong forelegs which have spines in between. Most mantids usually
sit and wait among the vegetation ready to grasp unsuspecting prey by their powerful forelegs.
They wait motionless with their forelegs together and this gave them their name of
Praying Mantids have strong
mouthparts for chewing, together with their large eyes well apart on each side,
form their mobile triangular head. Their antennae are slender, segmented and longer in male than
in female. They have hardened forewings for
protection and membranous hind wings for flying, although some species are wingless. They develop with
- Pray Mantids blend in the habitat to avoid being seen.
Usually Praying Mantids are green or light brown in colour and are well camouflaged.
Camouflage is important in Praying Mantids. As the predators, this avoid being easily
noticed by theirs prey. As the prey for many other predators, such as birds,
small mammals, they must not be seen to avoid being eaten.
There is a popular misconception that Praying Mantids have an unusual mating behavior similar to
Widow Spiders, that the female will cut the head of the male during the early
stage of mating and when finished mating, the female often eats the entire male.
This is only happen in a few species and only at certain times. However,
cannibalism is common in praying mantids.
There are three Praying Mantid families in Australia. Up to this moment we
found two families in Brisbane.
- Family Amorphoscelidae
- The Mantids in this family are smaller in size. Many have very good cryptic
colour and body shape. Some of them have the colour of bark and some of them
mimic ants. They live on the ground or on the tree trunks. Usually females
are wingless and male are fully winged. Females and males may look quite
- This family contains 80% of the Praying Mantids species found in Australia.
Usually they are large in size. On their front arm, they have two rows of
spines, which is different from a single row of all other families.
Ootheca - Mantids eggs case
Female mantid lays eggs in a distinctive
case called ootheca. The young nymphs hatch from the ootheca can be from 10 to
100 depends on species.
- Ootheca - Mantids eggs case of Large
Brown Mantid, dia 20mm.
- The Praying Mantids are also suffer from parasitise by Parasitic
Wasps. The small holes (in the second picture) were made by those wasps
when they emerged.
Questions for Discussion
Why Praying Mantids move in step towards its prey?
- When a Praying Mantids moving towards its prey, they move in step, i.e.., they move forwards a little bit
and then stop, a seconds later, it move another step and then stop, until they reach their prey.
This kind of motion may be more famous in the chameleon and some of the lizards. They move in steps and stop.
We can also see this kinds of movement in some spiders. This may look funny to our human eyes, but I
think there is the advantage for so many animal are doing this. Since all of them are predator to insects, I spectacular
that this kind of motions could be invisible to insects eyes. This kind of
motions may be not sensitive to the insect eyes. So the insects predators evolutes
this kind of motions to approach the prey.
When the praying mantid is very close to it prey, why it starts to swing it
head side way? Why the eyes of praying mantid are separated more than other
- We can also notice that when the praying mantid is very close to the prey,
it start to swing it head left and right. I gauss the praying mantid doing
this is to measure the distance from the prey accurately. By swinging
its head, the mantid create the viewing angle with the prey, as the above
picture. With the larger viewing angle, the more accurate distance can be
- The larger view angle can also explain why the praying mantids have their
eyes more separated than the other insects so that they can locate precisely their prey at close
Here we would like to thank Graham
Milledge of Australian Museum for he correcting some
mistakes in this web site.
- Reference and links:
- 1. Insects
of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University
Press, 2nd Edition 1991, pp 351-355.
- 2. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus &
Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p93.
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