Wandering along on our #NatureDoodlewash hike, I’ve stumbled across this little praying mantis. These are odd little creatures that are often hard to spot as their body shape and colors make them blend in with the plants or tree bark around them. Though their big bug eyes provide them with binocular vision, they apparently only have one ear, so they can’t discriminate the direction or frequency of sound. Also, this ear is weirdly located on their belly just in front of their back legs. This makes me think how bizarre it would be if that were the case for humans. At best, one would certainly not want to be caught whispering in public.

The weirdest thing about the praying mantis is its penchant for cannibalistic sex. The female will sometimes eat the head of the male while they are copulating and sometimes, more horrifyingly, even before they begin. But it turns out the male is actually a better lover without a brain to control his inhibitions and as a bonus his body provides nourishment for monster mom. While fairly common in artificial laboratory settings, it’s estimated that the ladies only eat their dates about 30% of the time in a natural setting. Still not super great odds if one is a mantis bachelor.

Of course, the name comes from their front legs that they hold upright as if in prayer. For all bees and other small insects reading this, please don’t be fooled by this angelic pose. This is simply the stance they take while waiting for prey so they can lash out with lightening speed and grab some dinner. Larger versions of this rather deadly predator can eat frogs, lizards and even birds. Wow, these things are starting to make spiders look friendly! There you have it though. The rather odd world of the surprisingly vicious praying mantis.

Join me throughout the month of June on a virtual nature hike! Show everyone what you love most in nature with a watercolor sketch or painting and tag your images #NatureDoodlewash so we can all enjoy it with you! I’ll create a featured artist gallery of our global hike at the end of the month! 

World Watercolor Month is coming in July! Click here to learn more!

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Gamboge, Azo Orange, Permanent Green Pale, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pens with Platinum Carbon sepia and black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

59 replies on “Odd Habits Of The Praying Mantis

      1. Ahah Jade now you bring me a good laugh! I am glad that you like my watercolor and I am happy that my hilarious story made you laugh I am happy to know thanks! To write an hilarious story, with a twist was my idea I guess did work out right! LOL 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  1. What a great looking mantis. Thanks for the info, never knew it was so weird. One thing in their favor, they eat lots of bugs like aphids. You can even buy these guys to control your bad bugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh goodness gracious!! Cannibalistic sex! Sheeeeesh! But your doodlewash – absolutely freakin’ amazing! I tried to draw a penguin today and paint it. Looks like a 2 year old – I need to step back and seriously recognize your AMAZING drawing and painting skills Charlie O!!!!! Wowza!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve witnessed this lashing out and snatching prey act on a bee. It was quite fascinating and a little disturbing at the same time. I managed to capture it all on camera! I also got a surprise visit from one in the kitchen one time as well. Pretty cool, but he startled me at first.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I saw a video on Youtube once several years ago of a Praying Mantis catching and eating a Hummingbird, and that changed my whole outlook on the Praying Mantis. A couple of years ago one was perched on my front doorway way near the light…laying in wait for moths no doubt. I grabbed my camera but made sure to keep out of striking distance. I do not trust them now.

    Do the males eat the young? Is that why the female eats the male head? Or is it strictly for the food source for the young? What a sacrifice! One hopes they have no clue or consciousnesses of what could be coming.

    I uploaded a small nature watercolor a bit ago, and tagged it. Thank you for the inspiration! Your work is amazing, and I’m always in awe of how great your work is even when you say you worked fast and were short on time! It takes me days or hours, and hours. Your painting of the Praying Mantis is so life like! The pose is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Deborah! 😃💕Yeah…leaning more about them makes me wary, but we’re too big to eat, so I guess it’s all cool. Not sure if makes eat the young…I think they might…most of this is seen in labs, so I think maybe they just go a little crazy in captivity! And yay, to a doodlewash! Can’t wait to check it out! 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m thankful human ears are not near their stomach! 😉 Can you imagine a hungry, growling human stomach amplified?! Lol! 😄 AWESOME Praying Mantis, Charlie! And your shading is fantastic too!! 💕🎨

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Had one of these fellas live on my patio basil for 2 months one summer, named him Manny (original huh?) Really wanted to write a children’s book called Manny Visits the Herb Garden. Did lots of sketches, and he/she would come up to the top of the basil when I watered to get a shower.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s a really beautiful doodlewash, but goodness, these chaps give me the creeps! The whole headless sex thing is hideous, but doesn’t strike me as completely surprising given the look in those big, deranged eyes!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amazing painting, quite lovely…just a bit startling at first glance..lol, pretty much the same reaction when I happen to bump into on of these in the garden. Your paintings really are fantastic and they always seem to get an emotional response..which is good…/shudder….Thanks for sharing the fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a fantastic praying mantis. The expression on her face is wonderful. She looks like she got caught red handed – green legged? – and is praying for a reprieve from judgement for a full confession of her crimes. Hmm – I wonder how she’ll look in black and white stripes.
    Your art is gorgeous, Charlie – even the shadow is expressive.

    Liked by 1 person

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