The European Mantis (Mantis religiosa) is native to the Mediterranean region and Asia. It has been introduced to North America in 1899 is now very common in Canada and the northern parts of the United States.
Mantises are generalist predators which means that they eat a large variety of insects, e.g. butterflies, grasshoppers, and bees. Larger species can actually prey on small vertebrates including hummingbirds. Their front legs are modified into perfect tools for grasping and holding prey, which is eaten alive. At rest, the folded front legs give the impression of a posture of prayer, hence the common name praying mantis.
Mantises have incredible good eyesight. Some species have a visual range of 20 m which is a lot for a rather small animal. Their compound eyes may comprise up to 10 000 individual eyes.
These animals are also famous for cannibalism of males by females but it seems that this is not the rule among all mantis species.
The photo for this post was made by one of my colleagues here at the institute. Valerie is one of our collections technicians and a fantastic insect photographer as you can see in our school program blog.