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  • Writer's pictureKa Hana Pono

A Visit From a Praying Mantids Sparked a Keiki Lesson

These insects get their name because they have very long front legs that they hold in a position that reminds people of praying.

Praying mantids are carnivores, eating mainly insects and other small animals. Many gardeners and farmers welcome mantids, because the insects they eat are often pests that hurt crops. In addition to insects such as crickets and grasshoppers, mantids eat spiders, frogs, lizards, and even small birds.

Praying mantids have long necks topped by a triangular head. They can turn their heads 180 degrees—an entire half circle—which, along with exceptional eyesight, helps them spot prey.

They’re well-camouflaged, adapting colors that help them blend with the plants they live near. Some also have amazing body shapes that make them look like leaves or branches.

Most species, or kinds, of mantids live in tropical areas of the world. Africa has 880 species, while only 20 species live in North America.

On average, mantids live for about a year.

While mantids are predators, they also have enemies that eat them. Bats, rodents, birds, frogs, and spiders eat adult mantids.

Mantids are close relatives of the cockroach.

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