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name applied to the large, slender, slow-moving, winged insectsinsect,
invertebrate animal of the class Insecta of the phylum Arthropoda. Like other arthropods, an insect has a hard outer covering, or exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed legs. Adult insects typically have wings and are the only flying invertebrates.
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 of the family Mantidae in the order Mantodea. Predatory insects, mantids have strong, elongate, spiny front legs, used for grasping prey. While lying in wait for its prey, a mantid holds its front legs in an upraised position suggestive of prayer; hence the Greek name mantis, or prophet, and the common name, "praying mantis."

The prothorax, or front portion of the body, is very long in proportion to its width, and the head, with its two large, protruding, compound eyes, can turn in any direction. Members of the 1,800 mantid species range in length from 1 to 5 in. (2.5–12.5 cm). Their typically green or brown color, in some cases with irregular patterns, camouflages them among the leaves and twigs in which they are found.

Mantids are voracious eaters, feeding on insects and other invertebrates, including other mantids. They may even catch small vertebrates, such as frogs. Mantids are sometimes used by gardeners, in place of chemical pesticides, to combat insect pests. Often the female eats the male after mating. The female lays 200 or more eggs contained in a papery case, usually attached to leaves or twigs. The young hatch as bright yellow nymphs (see metamorphosismetamorphosis
[Gr.,=transformation], in zoology, term used to describe a form of development from egg to adult in which there is a series of distinct stages. Many insects, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, and fishes undergo metamorphosis, which may involve a change in habitat,
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), resembling the adults except for their smaller size and lack of wings.

Mantids are found in all warm regions of the world, and are especially numerous in the tropics. There are about 20 native species in the S and W United States, known regionally as devil's coach horses or mule killers. The commonest of the southern species is the Carolina mantid, Stagmomantis carolina, about 2 in. (5 cm) long. Two introduced species, the Praying mantis or European mantid, Mantis religiosa (about 2 in./5.1 cm long), and the Chinese mantid, Tenodera aridifolia (up to 4 in./10.2 cm long), are now common in many parts of the United States.

Mantids are classified in the phylum ArthropodaArthropoda
[Gr.,=jointed feet], largest and most diverse animal phylum. The arthropods include crustaceans, insects, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, and the extinct trilobites.
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, class Insecta, order Mantodea, family Mantidae.

References in periodicals archive ?
Fagan and Odell (1996) faced the same quandary in their deterministic analytical model (using a nonlinear partial differential equation) of growth rates of praying mantids, where selection pressure under the model structure should lead to relentless selection for earlier hatching each season.
I didn't think I would be lucky enough to see the mantids come out, but one morning I checked the egg case, and .
I set the mantids free in my backyard, and I was surprised when spiders and ants immediately attacked them.
After an hour, I could still see many of the mantids hiding among leaves and grass.
Two weeks later I found two of the growing mantids in tall grass.
So now I think I'll just prune back my 'Maraschino,' give it a chance to rejuvenate, and let the mantids be fruitful and multiply.
Maxwell, then at the University of California, Davis, started combing the locale in the early 1990s for bordered and Mediterranean mantids.
Female mantids do not dwarf the males the way female redback spiders overshadow their mates.
In the California mantids, Maxwell didn't observe overt suicidal behavior by males, he reported last year.
While the theory that suicidal males equal nutritional boosts for female mantids remains controversial, Maxwell leans toward the view of sexual cannibalism proposed in 1997 by Goran Arnqvist of the University of Umea in Sweden and Stefan Henriksson.
It is also worth noting that atypical predation attempts could have taken place in this experiment; the "anti-predation" design in this study was aimed at organismal predators such as birds and mantids, yet legs could have been lost to the viscous surface of fresh sap flows within the enclosed trees.
This year's festival focused on orthopteroids -- a taxonomic subgroup that includes crickets, grasshoppers, katydids and mantids, and one that provided Berenbaum a fine opportunity to prove her love of insects has its limits.