Praying mantises are predatory insects named for the look of their folded forelegs, which are held close together as if praying. The name most commonly refers to Mantis religiosa, the European praying mantis—but it is also used for many of the other 2,500 mantis species in the world, which live on all continents except Antarctica.
But whatever you call the praying mantis, its name is only one vowel off from the mantises’ real defining characteristic—preying.
Mantids may stalk or ambush prey, waiting silently then launching a sudden, individually calculated attack on their quarry that takes only milliseconds. Springing forward, they grasp their victim with those forelegs, called raptorial legs. The second and third sections of these limbs have interlocking