Mantodea - most commonly known as the Praying Mantis, order mantodea is a
group of about 1800 carnivorous insects which prodominatley live in tropical
regions of the earth. Though certain species can be found in locations with
moderate climate. With an extremely striking appearence, mantids almost have
human like qualities with the ability to hold an erect stance, and arms that
face forward. A very efficient killer, mantids were created for hunting and
killing prey. Order Mantodea is in the subclass Pterygota. As with all
classifications there can be debates on where certain orders or species belong.

Historically there has been some confusion on whether Mantodea deserves there
own order. Some experts have placed Mantodea in the dictyoptera order along with
cock roaches (Ramel 1996, Jaques 1981, Phoenix Zoo). Others say mantids belong
in Orthoptera, which consists of grasshoppers. Experts say this is due to their
large pro notum (Stokes 1983, Borror and White 1970). The emerging consensus
around the position of Mantodea believes Mantodea constitute their own
independent order of insects. Mantids can be characterized by their triangular
head, and filiform antennae. This head has the ability to turn 180 degrees. With
their prominate pair of compound eyes located on Peters 2 the sides of the head,
the mantis can almost see 360 degree's around. However the sharpest vision is
located in the compound eye's center, for the mantis to optimaly see objects
it must turn its head so that the eye is facing the object. These eyes are
extremely sensitive to light, changing from light green or tan in bright light,
to dark brown in the dark. The prothorax of the mantis is another aid in giving
them their distintive appearence. This prothorax has the ability to bend and
twist which aids in the mantids ability to see close to 360 degrees around. The
two long "raptorial" front legs are adapted to seize and hold prey. The coxa
connects the tibia which has sharp spines to firmly hold prey. The femur has
matching groves where the spine on the tibia fold into. This creates a "jack
knife" effect that allows the insect to assume it's distinctive praying
position. The other four legs of the mantis are designed for locomotion. These
legs can regenerate if broken, but only in the molting process. These limbs that
regenerate are always smaller than they were originally. A full grown adult that
no longer molts no longer possess the ability to regenerate limbs. The front"raptorial" limbs do not regenerate if broken. Because of their large bulky
bodies mantids are fairly weak flyers. They have four pairs of wings. The first
pair are leathery tegmina wings that lay over the inner pair. The Peters 3
mambrenous inner pair are folded under the first pair and are used for flight
and to startle enemies. The large segmented abdomen houses the digestive system
and reproductive organs. The male mantis has 8 segments, and the females are
born with 8 segments as well. But with each succesive molt in the female the
last two segments begin to overlap resulting with 6 segments left. Sixty percent
of mantid species possess an ultrasonic ear on the under side of the metathorax,
especially those that have wings. The mantid is an "auditory cyclops", which
means it only has one ear. The ear is 1mm long with cuticle like knobs at either
end and two ear drums buried inside. The ear is specially tuned to very high
ultrasonic freqeuncies of sound waves from 25 to 65 kilohertz. Apparently, the
ears primary purpose is designed to respond to the ultrasonic echo-location
signal used by hunting bats. The mantis primarily uses its ultrasonic ears while
in flight. When a mantis senses a bat's ultrasonic echo at close range, it
curls it's abdomen upwards and thrusts its legs outward creating a drag and
resulting in a sudden aerial stall. This flight manuever of the mantis creates
an unpredictable flight pattern for the bat, and is very effective at avoiding
hungry bats. There are three ways to distinguish between female and male
mantodea. The male has 8 segments, while the female has Peters 4 The second is
size, the female is always bigger than the male. The third is behavior, the male
mantis is more prone to take flight in search of a mate, while the female often
remains stationary. Mantids are extremely predacious feeders, only eating live
prey, or prey that is moving, and hence appears alive. Varying on the species,
you can see what diet preferences are. Some species only eat "soft bodied
bugs", insects that can