- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
What a perfect camouflage!
Have you ever seen a green praying mantis hiding among the green growth in your garden?
Concealed. Disguised. Camouflaged.
The praying mantis is a patient insect. It will lurk for hours in its familiar prayer-like position, ready to ambush passing prey, usually an unsuspecting insect like a honey bee, bumble bee, sweat bee or grasshopper. Then with a movement faster than you can say "What the..." it will strike, grabbing its prey with its spiked forelegs. The target, unable to escape the deadly grip, becomes its meal. No catch and release here!
There's a reason why many folks have never seen a praying mantis. It's like trying to find Waldo, especially when the mantis is camouflaged in the vegetation and lying motionless.
Wikipedia tell us that the mantids, in the order Mantodea, comprise more than 2400 species and about 430 genera in 15 families worldwide. Some 20 species occur in North America, according to entomologist Gilbert Waldbauer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Author of The Handy Bug Answer Book, Waldbauer writes that the introduced Chinese mantis is the largest "at a length of asmuch as four inches."