Mantis, or Mantid, also Praying Mantis, an insect related to the grasshopper and cricket. The mantis feeds primarily on insects. The name “praying mantis” comes from the way the insect holds its strong, grasping forelegs. There are about 2,000 species, native primarily to tropical and warm temperate regions.
Depending on the species, an adult mantis is from less than one inch (2.5 cm) to more than four inches (10 cm) in length. It has long hind legs and oval, leaflike wings. Greenish-brown coloration makes it almost invisible against twigs and leaves, from which it pounces on its prey. From 50 to 400 eggs are laid on twigs in frothy masses that later become dry and paperlike. The young, which are wingless, hatch in the spring and feed chiefly on aphids, caterpillars, and other soft-bodied insects. The Carolina mantis, or rearhorse, is common in the South. Chinese mantids and European mantids are numerous in the eastern United States.
Mantises make up the family Mantidae of the order Dictyoptera or, according to some biologists, Orthoptera. The Carolina mantis is Stagmomantis carolina. The Chinese mantid is Tenodera aridifolia; the European, Mantis religiosa.The mantid, or praying mantis, has long hind legs and leaf-like wings.