One of the more fascinating insects you can encounter in your yard is the praying mantis. Able to turn their head 180 degrees, they will turn their heads to follow your movements.
The praying mantis can be found all over the world. The Carolina mantis is the most common mantis in the state of Kansas. They are usually about 7/8ths inches in length, green in color but sometimes can be a grayish brown, with elongated bodies and large compound eyes on a triangular head. They can be hard to spot, since they protect themselves by camouflaging and concealing themselves in grass and shrubs.
The word mantis derives from the Greek word mantis for prophet or fortune teller.
The name most people commonly use is “Praying Mantis” because of their prayer like stance.
The praying mantis is predatory, with insects forming their primary diet. They camouflage themselves, holding still and waiting for their prey to come near, then using their spiked forelegs, grasp out with remarkable speed to catch and hold their prey.
You have probably seen their egg capsules attached to flat surfaces, branches or wrapped around a plant stem. The eggs are typically deposited in a frothy mass. The froth then hardens, creating a protective, distinctive capsule called an ootheca. This is the stage in which they pass the winter, emerging in the spring as nymphs.
They are considered a beneficial insect to have in gardens. So if you are lucky enough to spot a praying mantis, stop and observe this interesting insect.
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