Wieland, Frank Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Schütte, Kai Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Last reviewed:August 2020
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- Fossil record and evolutionary age
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An order of predatory insects, commonly known as praying mantises or praying mantids, with raptorial forelegs. Members of the order Mantodea (class Insecta, phylum Arthropoda) are known as praying mantises or praying mantids (Fig. 1). The foremost of the three leg-bearing segments (that is, the prothorax) of these insects is often elongate and is adapted for seizing prey (raptorial) [Fig. 2]. Mantises have large eyes, and the head in most species is highly movable in all planes. Eggs are laid in egg cases (oothecae), containing about 10–400 eggs embedded in a hardening secretion from abdominal glands. Mantises are often well camouflaged by coloration or sometimes bizarre body structures. The popular name of praying mantises is based on their seemingly pious resting position: The folded forelegs evoke the impression of praying behavior. Approximately 2450 species have been described worldwide, with approximately 30 species occurring in the United States (3 of them have been introduced). See also: Arthropoda; Insecta; Protective coloration
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