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Praying Mantis Habitat

Praying Mantis Habitat

The Praying Mantis Habitat Is Hard To Define

The praying mantis habitat is difficult to define specifically. In the first place, there are a couple of thousand different species of praying mantis. Some are quite large, attaining a length of nearly 6 inches. At the other extreme, some species are barely a centimeter, less than half an inch, in length.

All species share several characteristics. They are skillful hunters, and for the most part very patient ones. They can be cannibalistic. They will eat almost anything that isn’t too big that gets too close.

To paint with a broad brush, praying mantis habitat could be almost anywhere that has a tropical, sub-tropical, or a warm temperate climate. They are at home in forests, fields, and gardens. Praying mantis species come in various colors, though most of them are green or brown.

Baby praying mantis peeks out from a leaf

To survive, they need to be able to blend in with their surroundings, not hard to do if they are green and there are plenty of green leaves about. A praying mantis living in a tropical region may be some color other than green or brown, pink for example. As such, the mantis can blend in with the native flowers, or even look like one.

The characteristics of a given species then is largely determined by the specific praying mantis habitat in which it finds itself. About the only thing a mantis needs is a place to sit where it is well camouflaged, and an available supply of food.

Camouflage is important, not only so the mantis won’t be noticed by its prey, but also so it won’t be easily seen by predators.

Patience And Speed – If you see a praying mantis in your garden it is either because you have been looking hard for one, or have simply seen one quite by chance. Much of the time the praying mantis stands stock still, waiting for an insect or some other morsel to wander close by.

The mantis will stand in an upright posture with its forelegs folded in front of it, a prayer-like position giving the insect its name. If an insect ventures too close, the forelegs can move with blinding speed, grasping the unfortunate victim.

Close-up of big green praying mantis sitting on a branch

The legs have scales and spines which makes it impossible for the prey to wriggle free. The mantis the generally bites the head off of its victim and then proceeds to enjoy its meal.

Not A Nice Next Door Neighbor – The presence of other mantises is an important part of praying mantis habitat. Although the praying mantis is somewhat of an anti-social loner in its day-to-day existence, it does need to mate, and will gladly devour another praying mantis if there are no other insects about.

When mantis eggs hatch, a newborn mantis will often have one of its siblings for its first meal, if it doesn’t become another sibling’s meal first. As far as cannibalistic tendencies are concerned, mating is quite often the final act of a male praying mantis, as there is a good chance that the female will bite its head off during the mating process.

A praying mantis can be kept as an interesting pet, and creating the appropriate praying mantis habitat does not require a great deal of effort. A few twigs and leaves in an enclosed container will usually suffice. As far as water is concerned, an occasional misting is all the water it needs.

Do keep it out of direct sunlight though, especially if the container is glass. A mesh top or mesh covering any openings is a good idea as the mantis can both jump and fly. If you can provide it with live food to eat, it will probably be content for the most part to sit on a leaf in its praying position, waiting for dinner.

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