Mantid refers to those insects belonging to the order Mantodea whereas mantis is a lower genus to which only a few mantids belong.
Their most distinguishing feature is their large forelegs which they hold in a characteristic praying gesture. These legs are extremely powerful and have spikes on them, enabling mantids to catch and hold their prey.
Praying mantids are generally brown or green with a triangular-shaped head and large eyes. It is possible for them to turn their heads 180 degrees. The black dot on the eyes is not a real pupil. This may be a defence mechanism as it appears that the mantid is always looking at us.
Nymphs are identical to the adults but don’t have wings. It seems to be a characteristic of nymphs to have their bodies turning up at the tip.
There are many different shapes and sizes.
Why they’re beneficial
The mantid is a very good hunter that catches its prey by ambush, and any insect than comes within reach of it is lunch.
Whilst they are effective predators of pests, they also prey on beneficial insects. They will eat each other and when they hatch not all the babies will survive, as some will be eaten by those that have already hatched.
Adult size: 10mm-16cm