How to make a praying mantis a habitat

The tricks of the praying mantis

They look like aliens, have a strange name, can sit still for hours - and snap shut in a flash: praying mantises are really very special insects

From a distance, the bush on the Greek island of Crete looks like a completely normal plant. The leaves sway gently in the wind, the leaves rustle softly. But when you approach it, the undergrowth suddenly comes to life: in a matter of seconds a large green flower opens, and then the calyx hisses like a snake! Since when do flowers make noises?

Only when you get closer will you discover the answer: This flower is not a plant at all - it is an animal. A praying mantis crouches in the bush! It spreads its green wings threateningly and thus deceives its enemies: birds or lizards prefer to run away before the hissing blossom.

Does anyone see me

Praying mantises, like all mantis, are masters of camouflage. They adapt perfectly to their living space. However, only a few make as much wind as the flower imitator: Some of the more than 2,300 species of fishing horror look more like withered leaves, others disguise themselves as a blade of grass or a piece of bark. But one thing is all praying mantises

same: They owe their funny names to their appearance.

Patience pays off

Because they fold their tentacles in front of their chests, it appears as if they are praying. But they don't: In reality, the sanctimonious insects are lurking for prey. A praying mantis can sit motionless on a branch for hours. But as soon as a beetle or maggot approaches, the tentacles snap forward like folding knives! Zack - pinch the meal.

All of this happens in less than a tenth of a second - hardly visible to the human eye! Some catchers are so fast that they can even catch flies out of the air.

Don't come any closer!

Most of all, however, the horrors prefer to hang upside down on a branch and watch the surroundings with wide eyes. You won't miss a thing: Your triangular head is so flexible that you can easily look back!

When enemies approach, the insects stand up, tear up their thorn arms and raise their wings threateningly. If that doesn't help, they stroke the wings with their abdomen - the hissing sound confuses even larger enemies such as birds or lizards.

Dangerous romances

The tricks work: after all, the terrors belong to the oldest inhabitants of the earth. They were buzzing through the forests as early as 340 million years ago. It's actually a miracle that they survived so long - when you consider that the insects are not exactly squeamish among each other.

For example when mating: If a male carelessly approaches a female, it briefly says "Snap!" - and the admirer is eaten.

Whoever approaches the female from behind, taps the antennae on her abdomen and then jumps on her back has a better chance. After mating, however, the male has to say: get away from it all! Otherwise it will end up as food.

Voracious offspring

A female can lay dozens, sometimes up to 400 eggs. After five to six weeks, the larvae hatch and look like small worms. A few minutes later

the shell of the worm bursts open - and tiny terrors crawl out. And what do you do first? They run apart in all directions. After all, you can never be sure whether your siblings are already snapping.

Profile: The praying mantis

  • General: Terrors or praying mantises are insects, the numerically largest class in the animal kingdom. They are closely related to the cockroaches. Special features are the front legs, which have been converted into fangs, the freely movable, triangular head with large eyes and the elongated body. There are over 2300 species worldwide.
  • Way of life: Praying mantises inhabit bushes and shrubs, but they can also be found on the ground. They particularly love sunny slopes and forest edges. Because they need a lot of warmth to live. In spring, the females lay up to 400 eggs in what is known as the ootheca, from which the larvae hatch after five to six weeks.
  • Size: Most species are five to seven centimeters long, a few even up to 15 centimeters.
  • Food: All fishing horrors are predators. They eat flies, grasshoppers, wasps, bees and other insects. Sometimes they even eat fellow species. Larger fishing horrors sometimes even prey on small reptiles, such as frogs.