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Praying Mantises

The praying mantis is a carnivorous insect that is an inhabitant of the Laurel Lake area. Praying mantises usually attain a body length of 2 to 4 inches. The body of the praying mantis is like that of other insects. It has a head, a thorax, and an abdomen.

Praying mantises get their names from the appearance of their front legs which are held folded as if in a praying position. The front legs of the praying mantis have spines and claws which are used to catch prey. The tiny hooks on the feet make it possible for the mantis to climb even on surfaces as slick as glass.

Female praying mantises are larger than males. Males usually die following mating- the female usually eats his head off while mating. Females will die in the fall after laying their eggs. The eggs are laid on branches or stems in a white foam-like substance. This substance becomes softer in warm weather and offspring hatch and leave the stems. The baby mantises will lose their skin in a process called molting 6 to 8 times before they mature.

Praying mantises blend well with the environment. They hide in vegetation. They either stalk or wait for prey to appear. Praying mantises usually grab their prey and bite the prey behind the neck causing paralysis. Praying mantises wash their faces following a meal.