random header image

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

European Mantis

Mantis religiosa

Class: Insecta
Order: Mantodea
Family: Mantidae

Mantis religiosa

Photographer:Ondřej Zicha Source:www.eol.org Copyright:CC BY-NC 3.0


Adult Description: The European Mantis (Mantis religiosa) is 50-60 mm in length including the wings which extend past the length of the abdomen. The body color is green or brown with dark spots on the coxa and forelegs often grasped or folded (mimicking prayer) explaining the origin of the species name.

Larva Description: Nymphs look similar to the adults, but differ in body size.

Host Plant: None

Ecological Threat

Currently, the European Mantis posses no ecological threat as it does not exist in groups, and minimal damage if any is done to native plants that it feeds on.


The female European Mantis lays over 100 eggs in a flat mass attached to leaves or twigs where they remain dormant for the duration of winter. The eggs hatch in late Spring at which time they are dispersed by the wind or eaten by their siblings. European Mantis are solitary, interacting only to mate in late summer when they reach maturation.


The European Mantis was accidentally introduced into the eastern United States in 1899 on plants intended for a nursery. It was discovered that the European Mantis predated the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar. Further European Mantids were brought to the U.S. in hopes of controlling the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar, however the cannibalistic tendencies of the European Mantis prevented it from being a successful controlling factor.

Native Origin


Current Location

U.S. Habitat: European Mantis prefers meadows where it can camouflage with plants and available foliage. The European Mantis feeds on caterpillars, butterflies, flies, and some species of moth.

U.S. Present: eastern and southern United States.


There are no current methods of management for European Mantis, however it has been used for predator management of other insects. The European Mantis is used in mite control in Christmas trees farms in Florida and the red legged grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum).



Google Search: Mantis religiosa
Google Images: Mantis religiosa
NatureServe Explorer: Mantis religiosa
Bugwood Network Images: Mantis religiosa


Edmunds, M. 1976. The defensive behavior of Ghanaian praying mantids with a discussion of territoriality. Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 58:1-37.

Gurney, A. B. 1950. Praying mantids of the United States, native and introduced. Smithson. Inst. Annu. Rep., p. 339-362.

Mook, L. J. and D. M. Davies. 1966. The European praying mantis (Mantis religiosa L.) as a predator of the red-legged grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum DeGreer). Canadian Entomologist, 98:913-918.

Internet Sources


< Back to Inventory