|Carolina Mantis gravid (pregnant) with eggs.|
|Chinese Mantis gravid with eggs.|
"Praying" mantis have long fascinated people. The very term "mantis" comes from ancient Greek meaning "prophet" or "seer" due to the way they hold their legs in prayer-like fashion. Most folks know that a more appropriate name would be "preying" mantis because of their predatory nature.
All mantis have a unique ability to turn their heads around much more than other insects. They are said to be the only insects that can look over their shoulders. Perhaps this along with their religious pose, triangular heads, and large eyes endear them to people as well. There are 20 species of mantis in North America. Unfortunately, of the two we commonly see around here, the most likely one we encounter is the non-native Chinese Mantis (Tenodera aridifolia). Our native Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) is no longer seen as often any more, especially near cities.
|Chinese Mantis egg case (ootheca) with a flat bottom|
|Carolina Mantis egg case (ootheca)|
|A Chinese Mantis feeds on a pollinator off a goldenrod bloom.|
Carolina Mantis, gravid and showing a color variation. Note the smaller size as compared to the Chinese Mantis also pictured on my hand in the photo above.
Even if mantis survive mating, find plenty of food, and/or are taken indoors, their days are numbered. Regardless of circumstances, they do not survive much longer than late November. They last a single season, eating and being eaten. There is so much that fascinates about these creatures (I didn't go into how they develop a single ear between their legs, the only creatures in the world with a solitary ear). I have fond memories of the many I raised as a kid and others I watched hunting in meadows, or them watching me over their shoulders like only mantis can do.