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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 and birds. 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 ?
In all 425 egg cases of Chinese mantids were recorded, comprising the 2005 data set.
A historical review of praying mantid taxonomy and systematics in the Neotropical Region: State of knowledge and recent advances (Insecta: Mantodea).
Checklist of the Neotropical mantids (Insecta, Dictyoptera, Mantodea).
Sources of mortality not modeled, but witnessed by us, are predation by other wolf spiders (especially the sympatric Rabidosa punctulata, Hentz 1844) and praying mantids.
You can buy some kinds of beneficial insects to release in your garden, but to be effective, beneficials must be released under precise conditions, and some of those that stick around best (praying mantids, for example) are generalized feeders that kill both helpful and harmful insects.
Keep in mind that pesticides cannot differentiate between the good and the bad guys, so quite often beneficial insects, like mantids and honey bees, fall victim to your good intentions.
However, mantids showed some degree of ambiguity; in contrast to previous reports, they never learned to avoid toxic milkweed bugs.
Among the many creatures that mimic leaf shapes are moths, butterflies, bush crickets, leaf mantids, and grasshopper walking leaves (genus Phyllium).
Exotic insects such as beetles, praying mantids, stick insects, and giant millipedes can be seen in the Insect City.
The book covers all orthopteroid insects, which include grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, cockroaches, mantids and stick insects, it caters for general and experienced readers and provides identification keys, taxonomic details, illustrations of anatomical characteristics and photographs and electron micrographs of the insects, taken by Rentz in the field and laboratory.
1996) for mantids in old fields, by Gomez and Zamora (1994) for parasitoids on weevils, and by Spiller and Schoener (1997) for insectivorous lizards on sea grape Cocoloba uvifera.
For example, mantids are fierce predators of other insects, but they are the prey of insectivorous birds.