This podcast episode we talk about the Praying Mantis! Relax, unwind, and join me in the grasslands, where we learn all about the crickets' worst nightmare.
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hello everyone welcome back to relax with animal facts I am Steph wolf and today I am going to be learning with you about our furry scaly or possibly even slimy friends and in today's case it is definitely going to be one of those exceptional cases in which it doesn't fit into any of the three categories because we are covering the %HESITATION so wonderful praying mantis this episode is of course a very very special listener episode dedicated to four of you very special listeners out there it is dedicated to Samantha Sylvia Margaret and someone who wrote in under the pseudonym of move man which is a great name what is amazing is that all four of these special listeners probably are not in the same continent there listening to this podcast from thousands of miles away with all of them wrote into the show wanting to learn about this super cool animal so thank you for the wonderful suggestion and I hope you enjoy your episode if you want to request an animal you can do so by sending a message to relax with animal facts on Instagram you can also send a message on the relax with animal facts dot com website where you can also check out the blogs and other sorts of things like that you can also send a message or an email to relax with animal facts at G. mail dot com your requests are what make this show pasta %HESITATION and the show has been running on requests ever since the first few episodes and for that I am so grateful let's just say where we got our facts from so we can go straight into the meat of what exactly is a praying mantis I got my facts from National Geographic dot com facts dot net and almanac dot com all three of these resources made this episode possible and so I am going to put all of them in the show notes or the description of this episode as we always do I encourage you all to go check them out they each have so much to learn on their websites and now I would like for all of you to notice maybe where you were carrying some tension one thing that you might notice especially if you are listening to this with somebody is that everybody carries tension a different way some people's shoulders go straight to their ears like they're some kind of organic headphones some will clench their jaw or clench their hands all the time everybody is truly different and in my case today it is in my hands as it always is and so I would encourage all of you to do your best and relaxing whatever it is that is tense for you as we go into this immersive experience with me staff wolf into the grasslands where the praying mantis resides the praying mantis is an insect that many of us are likely familiar with we maybe have even had them land on top of us while we are walking around in the field somewhere or even in our backyards but when it comes to some of those amazing characteristics about the praying mantis they may have been a mystery for you until now let's start with some basic things about the praying mantis so we can better build off of that foundation its common name is of course the praying mantis while it's scientific name is mantis religiosa and that second distinction may sound very familiar to something that we have in English and that is part of the etymology that we are going to leave until later the praying mantis is of course an invertebrate and before I go any farther I think it is good to define our terms here so many times these lofty scientists and researchers will throw around words like vertebrates and invertebrates but if we don't have a firm grasp of exactly what those terms mean they kind of go over our heads so the term invertebrate refers to a cold blooded animal that does not have a backbone along with not having a backbone their diet is going to consist of purely carnivorous material they don't eat their vegetables what will prefer a strictly carnivorous diet of other insects and animals each one is going to live about a year in the wild I especially a appreciated the side by side of the praying mantis to the tea Cup they are very close to one another so if you have a teacup in your hands of course not a huge mug but a little teacup you have a general context by which you can tell how to hold and how wide the praying mantis is on average the praying mantis is named for its prominent frontal legs which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer the reason I am not saving this until the end like we normally do is because we are going to be covering the etymology of the word mantis instead so if we remember back to the beginning where we learned about the scientific name mantis religiosa religiosa is one of those rude words that we use in English as religion so we can see how apt the name praying mantis is you need only open up a picture of this wonderful creature and see just how it sits in a resting position and we can understand why they were given this special distinction one thing that might be important to clear up is that some articles will throw around mantis others will say man to hit what exactly is the difference well when we say mantis as a term this refers only to members of the genus mantis that would include for example the European mantis which is again mantis religiosa but the term man to hit it with a D. at the end refers to all and any species but are you is essentially interchangeably by many of this scientific community and many of the articles that you were going to read online cemented is going to refer to the entire group of an order of insects known as men Togadia into this is a term that describes insects that look as if they are praying when their front legs are held at rest so I hope that is helpful in navigating the terrain of articles and not getting confused but at the time of this recording there are around one thousand eight hundred species of praying mantis alive on the planet they are considered to be of least concern meaning they are flourishing wherever they are and their population is nice and stable now the praying mantis as a whole we'll have five eyes six legs to N. ten nine in the triangular head now I can put a lot of things on my resume to make me look super unique what I can't do is say that I have five eyes six legs and a triangular head the mantis would undoubtedly get the job over me but this just shows how unique this creature is and even our small little insect friends are ones that have tremendous capacity to be so utterly peculiar and special that they can cause illnesses since of admiration and wonder now this triangular head that they have will be poised on this very long neck the people wearing the white coats might just call that neck and elongated thorax but they can turn these triangular heads almost on a swivel and they can turn around one hundred and eighty degrees to scan their surroundings with their two large compound eyes along with three other simple eyes located between them so again we have terminology that needs to be defined here when I say compound eyes and simple eyes what exactly is that referring to a compound I means that there are multiple lenses involved in the seeing process in the simple I a single lens is going to collect all of that information and focus the light onto the retina of the eye so the difference lies in the amount of lenses so while the compound I comes in clusters of these lenses the simple I will only have that single one so let's take can't hear the praying mantis has two large compound eyes that each have multiple lenses while the other three simple eyes only have single lenses that all results in the praying mantis having some pretty astonishing vision and the general colors and which you are going to see them mark green and brown though not always they are typically green and brown which will allow them to camouflage very well onto the plants among which they live they can blend into their surroundings like the ambush predators that they are and when ray comes just a little bit too close they can use their two front legs accompanied by their intense reflexes and that prey is dinner the reflexes are so quick that they are difficult to see see with the naked eye it is much easier to see with some technological equipment like a camera that can slow down and so you can see just how fast they launch on to their prey so just adding to their resume not only do they have a bunch of lies some more complex than others a triangular head and a bunch of legs but they can also take to the air most praying mantids are able to fly although some females might not be able to but that seems to be on a more case by case for mantis to mantis basis so the praying mantis because it is a live for an average of one year they will usually only lasts from the months that covers spring until fall that means that a praying mantis is an adult for about six months of its life but that will be plenty time to eat aplenty to breed and to do all of the other mantis like things that they like doing so we know that they can turn their heads about one hundred and eighty degrees that is half a circle so it can turn completely from front to back along with all of those eyes it gives them a three hundred degree field of vision with the sensitivity of those complex eyes they can spot the slightest movement from up to sixty feet away B. without my glasses I would have a hard time spotting someone doing jumping jacks five feet away and so I will give the praying mantis the pedestal on that one as well now those signature alarms that it has which are in that prayer decision when they are at rest but quickly become the instrument to its prey's doom those arms are cold raptorial forelegs which is an awesome name these are the appendages by which it can latch on as they have these little spikes for grip lining all along side them and this makes them a formidable predator but don't worry while they may be quite a threat in the smaller scale insect world you and me we have nothing to fear though I probably wouldn't be placing my little pinky finger anywhere near them but that is up to everyone's judgment so as a corner for the praying mantis is going to eat other insects that will include flies crickets moths and even grasshoppers now because the praying mantis is still pretty small about the size of a teacup they will have their share of natural predation as well so the praying mantis is going to have to camouflage itself very well to hide from bats frogs birds monkeys snakes and spiders while the praying mantis is a formidable predator it is by no means the apex predator of its environment the praying mantis is of course going to have to be careful of its natural predators but it is also susceptible to a different sort of predation I think one of the most well known fact about the praying mantis is this unfortunate breeding or mating behavior that happens within the praying mantis species in which the adult female sometimes will eat her mate just after or perhaps even during mating apart from this terrifying reality the mails or not at all deterred and that is why we can consider this population to be of least concern so the males walk into this with their head held up high and willing to take the risk that the female might be a little hungry so after this potentially horrifying ordeal the females will regularly lay hundreds of eggs in a very small case and the baby praying mantises which are known as nymphs will hatch looking much like tiny versions of their parents ready immediately to start eating on insects they have six months until they become adults to have kids of their own what a strange and amazing ordeal we know that spiders and other sorts of animals have some of that similar behavior it is most often seen in insect species from what I understand but if there is an exception to that rule and anyone knows it please reach out and let me know two pretty cool facts fall into the folklore category and by that they mean that the culture or society adopts some sort of an interesting view about something or about some particular animal and in the case of the French they had once thought that the praying mantis would appoint a lost child home now understanding their impeccable eyesight this one would be almost believable this is a sweeter take on the praying mantis than many other folklores will have about other animals sometimes Annable's are displayed as tricksters or something of the like but here in the French folklore it doesn't say the exact time I imagine it must have been some time ago but we can see from this little tale that the French must have thought quite well about the praying mantis in some parts of Africa it is considered good luck if one of the praying mantises happens to land on you and so here we have another beneficial folklore story about the praying mantis so it seems as though their reputation is a high one let's move on to the final fact of the episode which is the name we already found out why the praying mantis is called the praying mantis but what does that work mantis I mean the word mantis comes from the Greek word Mandy coss which means soothsayer or profit and the coinage of the term mantis as a type of insect that holds its four legs in a praying position was really solidified in the sixteen fifties another animal which is a great future episode is the mantis shrimp and it will have this same sort of position so from these things we can see that the praying mantis is an animal that has always drawn a lot of admiration and a lot of looks but I am sure that they have been the recipient of so much admiration and inquire re hundreds of years before the sixteen fifties we are now going to move on to the review portion of the show this is where I read a user submitted review tip Piccoli on apple podcasts and this was written by loopy loo five oh two and was written all the way from Great Britain into loopy loo five oh two rights have listened to this podcast nearly every night for over a year the idea is so simple but it is so relaxing listening to animal facts delivered in such a palatable way thank you for helping me to drift off each night and for enabling me to drop some facts in here and there during the day and making me look smart loopy loo it is all my pleasure to provide you with that intellectual ammunition in which you can share your animal facts knowledge with somebody else thank you for your very kind and wonderful review I am so grateful that the show can be of help to you and this part of your nightly routine as it is for many of you if you want to leave a review like loopy loo five oh two did you are encouraged to do so as it is one of the main ways that you can help support the show but you joining me here every week is gift enough thank you all for listening to this podcast episode if you want to learn about an animal that you find to be super super cool make sure to write in to either the Instagram relax with animal facts or you can go to relax with animal facts dot com and go to the animal request to tab and lastly you can always send an email to rectally to relax with animal facts at G. mail dot com a reminder for those of you who have sent an email and possibly didn't ought to get a reply sometimes emails slip through the cracks and I don't see them or I don't notice them and so if you have not gotten a reply please send it again you guys never leave me hanging each week and so I want to make sure that I don't leave you hanging either thank you all again for joining me on this wonderful adventure will be learned about the praying mantis and I hope that you will join me on the next podcast episode with the next animal take care