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Praying Mantis, Mantis, Mantid (Order Dictyoptera)

The Praying Mantis, AKA mantid, is one of the most popular and easily recognized insects. A live praying mantis also makes a very interesting live pet. They are one of the largest bugs that people encounter in the United States. Mantises usually measure two and a half to three inches. Males are usually shorter and more slender than females. Only adult mantises have wings. Young mantises are called nymphs. Mantises go through a number of molts (process where the shed their skin). The mantis life cycle begins in the egg case, which is also called an ootheca (plural is oothecae). When they hatch, the descend almost like spiders on small silken strands. A small membrane that enclosed them within the eggcase is cast off as they unfurl their bodies and legs. These newly hatched mantises are referred to as 1st instar (instar = stage between molts). A mantis enters the 2nd instar when it sheds its skin the first time. Different species and males and females may have a different total number of instars, but most mantids probably have 6-9 instars. A mantis becomes an adult after its final shed and will never molt again. Many species will have wings as adults, but not all. Some species will have smaller, "vestigial" wings that only cover half their bodies, or less. Other species are unwinged at maturity.

Below (scroll down) are listed some of the pet mantis species that hobbyists raise. Pet mantises are the most popular insect "pet" in the US hobby. Mantids are predatory insects with raptorial forelegs. Their front set of legs is lined with spines that help them hold their prey. A curved horn-like spike also helps them catch their prey and they sometimes use this to punch at predators. They eat other live bugs, usually slightly smaller than themselves though I've seen photos and videos of mantises eating hummingbirds, mice and other animals not usually thought of as likely prey. With a bit of practice, they are fairly simple pets to care for.  Please read the mantid caresheet below to learn more about the amazing praying mantis!

(your patience is appreciated as we reassemble the old links below in this new website)

Buy Pet Mantises Online Click here to shop for popular hobby species.
Live mantis New Mantis Video Page
Mantis Caresheet how to keep live praying mantises as pets
Mantid Birth and Hatching the first few moments of life
Mantid Mimic (Mantispid) these look like mantises, but are not
Mantid Parasites small wasps that parasitize mantis egg cases
Thumbnailed Photo Page my older mantis page with small photos of mantises

Species found in the live pet mantis hobby:

Acanthops falcata South American Dead leaf Mantis
Acromantis species Thai Boxer Mantis
Bactromantis mexicana
Blepharopsis mendica Thistle Mantis
Brunneria borealis Brunner's Mantis
Chloroharpax modesta Nigerian Flower Mantis
Creobroter elongata
Creobroter gemmatus
Creobroter meleagris
Creobroter pictipennis
Deroplatys desiccata
Deroplatys lobata
Deroplatys truncata Dead-leaf Mantises
Empusa Desert Flower Mantis
Erimiaphila Pebble Mantis
Glabromantis mexicana Mexican Grass Mantis
Gonatista grisea Grizzled Mantis
Gongylus gongylodes Wandering Violin Mantis
Harpagomantis Tricolor Flower Mantis
Hierodula membranacea Giant Asian Mantis
Hierodula majuscuca
Hymenopus coronatus Orchid Mantis
Idolomantis diabolica Devil's Flower
Idolomorpha dentifrons Alien Head Mantis
Iris oratoria Mediterranean Mantis
Litaneutria minor, Minor Ground Mantis
Liturgusa sp. Lichen Mantis
Mantis religiosa European Mantis
Miomantis paykullii Egyptian Mantis
Orthodera Garden Mantis or New Zealand Mantis
Otomantis Boxer Mantis
Oxyopsis Peruvian Boxer Mantis
Parasphendale afiinis Bud-winged Mantis
Parasphendale agrionina Bud-winged Mantis
Phyllocrania paradoxa Ghost Mantis
Phyllovates chlorophaea Texas Unicorn Mantis
Phyllovates sp. Peruvian Unicorn Mantis
Polyspilota sp. Madagascan Marbled Mantis
Popa spurca African Twig Mantis
Pseudocreobotra ocellata Ocellated Spiny Flower Mantis
Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii Walhbergi's Spiny Flower Mantis
Pseudoharpax sp. Eye-spotted Flower Mantis
Pseudovates arizonae Arizona Unicorn Mantis
Rhombodera Giant Shield Mantis
Sphodromantis Giant African Mantis
Stagmomantis gracilipes
Stagmomantis limbata Bordered Mantis
Stagmomantis californica California Mantis
Stagmomantis carolina Carolina Mantis
Sybilla pretiosa Cryptic Mantis
Tarachodes afzelli
Tarachodes pantherina Panther Mantis
Taumantis sp. Lime Green Mantis 
Tenodera sinensis Chinese Mantis
Theopropus elegans Banded Flower Mantis
Thesprotia graminis American Grass Mantis
Toxodera denticulata- The largest mantis on record. 20 cm body, from Java.
Vates pectinicornis
Vates sp. Mexican Unicorn Mantis
Yersiniops Yersin's Ground Mantis
Glabromantis mexicana, Mexican Grass Mantis, S. USA,  Mexico