Geographical Range Tropical and temperate regions worldwide
Habitat Various habitats, from forests to deserts
Scientific Name Order: Mantodea
Conservation Status Common

This insect is a lean, green eating machine! Its body is built for hunting prey, including big eyes, an extremely mobile, swiveling head, and lightning-fast arms.

The praying mantis is an ambush hunter: it sits very still, blending in with its surroundings and waiting patiently for an unwary insect to come near. Then it easily snatches its unsuspecting victim -- some much larger than itself. When it spots one, it takes the mantis only 50-70 milliseconds to strike out with its forelegs and snare its prey. The diet of the praying mantis includes all sorts of insects and spiders, and sometimes even frogs, lizards, or mice.

There are some 2,300 species of mantids in the world, and most are found in safe numbers in the wild. At this time, only one species is considered to be in danger according to IUCN (an organization that determines species' Conservation Status).

Did You Know?

Is the mantis "praying" or "preying"? Just to settle this old argument, we spell this insect's name with an a -- praying -- not an e. The animal was originally named for its resemblance to someone in a praying position, not because it is an efficient predator.