21 Types of Praying Mantis: from Leaf Mimics to Giant Warriors

Praying mantises have fascinated scientists and enthusiasts for centuries. There are more than 2,400 mantis species, but just how many types of praying mantises do you know? Here are 18 special mantis species that will blow your mind, from the well-known European mantis to the elusive orchid mantis. Get ready to be astonished by the incredible diversity and beauty of these remarkable insects. 

You can learn more about The Astonishing Lifecycle of a Praying Mantis here.

European mantis (Mantis religiosa)

The European mantis showcases a slender, elongated body that can grow up to 3 – 4 inches in length. Like other types of praying mantis, the female of this species is bigger than the male. However, the male has larger antennae and eyes. It comes in various shades, from green to brown, often with dark spots on the coxa.

European mantis - one of different kinds of praying mantis

This species of praying mantis is found across Europe, as well as parts of Asia and Africa. It typically inhabits various grasslands, meadows, gardens, and forests.

Flower mantis

The next praying mantis type is the flower mantis. This is not a specific praying mantis species but rather a group of mantises. All members of this group boast vibrant appearances, showcasing an array of colors ranging from pink, orange, yellow, blue, and purple to brown and green. These rainbow hues enable them to seamlessly blend into their surroundings of leaves, plants, and colorful flowers. These flower praying mantises primarily live in tropical areas in Asia and Africa.

Flower mantis - one of popular types of praying mantis

Here are some of the flower mantis you may know: the pink orchid mantis (cherry blossom or lotus praying mantis), spiny flower mantis, devil’s flower mantis, or yellow flower mantis. You may want to see 14 nature’s most elegant flower mantis here.

Conehead mantis (Empusa pennata)

The next one on our list of Top Amazing Types of Praying Mantises is the conhead mantis. The Conehead mantis is easily recognizable due to the prominent cone-shaped protrusion on its head, which is its most distinctive feature. Both males and females have this unique crown-like structure, making them much like an alien. Males are further characterized by their feather-like antennae.

Conehead mantis (Empusa pennata) on flower

These mantises have a slender, elongated body that can reach lengths of up to about 5 inches, with males typically being smaller. They exhibit a range of colors including pink, green, and various shades of brown.

This creature inhabits a range of warm, dry environments, particularly favoring semi-arid landscapes, grasslands, and shrublands across Southern Europe and parts of Asia and Africa.

Dragon mantis (Stenophylla lobivertex)

The dragon mantis is a rare praying mantis species within the Stenophylla genus. It inhabits dense rainforests, but details about its range and population are scant.

Dragon mantis - a very unique type
Source: Mantis Den

The creature’s long, spiky, and rough body makes it look like a legendary dragon, especially in some poses. This can possibly explain its name. It usually has a brown color like tree bark and leaves, sometimes with a touch of green. Interestingly, female individuals have a green, inflatable pheromone gland on their backs, likely to attract males.

Shield mantis

Listing the top praying mantises, the shield mantis is the one we cannot miss. This species is also called leaf mantis or hood mantis. There’re different types of shield mantis and they live in different areas of the world, from North and South America to Asia or Australia. It’s found predominantly in dense, lush forests.

A shield mantis on leave - one of different types of mantis

Its body is often adorned with vibrant hues that mimic leaves and bark, seamlessly blending into its surroundings. The insect possesses a striking appearance, characterized by a broad, flat prothorax that resembles a leaf or piece of bark. This feature not only provides it with an anatomical armor but also contributes to one of the most effective natural camouflages observed in the insect kingdom.

Dead leaf mantis

Similar to the shield mantis mentioned earlier, the dead leaf mantis is a variety of praying mantis species that imitate the appearance of dead leaves.

Their bodies are typically flattened and feature edges that mimic the serrations or tears of leaves, complete with veined patterns that resemble leaf veins. The coloration of dead leaf mantises can vary from brown to yellowish, closely matching the decaying leaves of their surroundings. The ghost mantis is a member of this group.

Dead leaf mantis - a common group of mantis

These insects are primarily found in tropical and subtropical habitats, where dense vegetation and a variety of leaf shapes provide the perfect backdrop for their disguise. You can spot them From Asia, Africa, to South America.

Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis)

The Chinese mantis is a fascinating and visually striking species of praying mantis native to Asia but has been introduced to various other parts of the world, including the United States. As for its habitat, the Chinese praying mantis is remarkably adaptable and can be found in a range of environments, including grasslands, meadows, and gardens.

A Chinese mantis on leaves

This species is known for its impressive size, with adults reaching more than 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) in length. With this size, it’s one of the largest mantis in the world and the biggest mantis in the US. It features a slender body that is predominantly green or brown. In the brown variant, there’s a green stripe along the edges of the front wings.

African mantis

The African mantis is a diverse group of praying mantis species native to various habitats across the African continent. These mantises are found in a wide range of environments, from arid deserts to lush tropical forests, demonstrating their remarkable adaptability.

African mantis - a group of many mantis in African

African mantises can vary significantly in size, color, and body structure, depending on their specific habitat and species. Commonly, they possess elongated bodies with powerful front legs. Their colors can range from vivid greens and browns to more subdued tones.

Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

The Carolina mantis comes in dusty brown, gray, or green hues. What’s fascinating about this species is that its nymphs can change their color to blend with their surroundings each time they molt. This color adjustment ability persists until they reach adulthood. Unlike other praying mantis species, the adult females have wings that only reach 3/4 down their abdomen. On their forewings (both males and females), you’ll find a dark dot.

Carolina mantis in flight

The Carolina mantis is a widespread species of praying mantis native to the United States, extending into parts of Central and North America. This adaptable predator thrives in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, gardens, and forests.

Giant Asian mantis (Hierodula patellifera)

The giant Asian mantis is known by different names like Harabiro mantis or Indochina mantis. The insect thrives in a variety of habitats across Asia, including rainforests, grasslands, and even gardens, where it skillfully blends into its surroundings.

Giant Asian mantis

As the name suggests, this species is big with a size of about  2 – 3 inches in length. However, when compared with other species in the genus Hierodula, it’s still small. This mantis displays a vibrant green or brown coloration.

Grass mantis

Grass mantis refers to a common name shared by several species of praying mantises that are characterized by their elongated bodies, which resemble blades of grass or thin leaves. Their coloration typically ranges from different shades of green to brown, matching the plants they inhabit.

The grass mantis

These insects live in various parts of the world, predominantly in tropical and subtropical regions in America, Asia, and Africa. You can find them in different habitats, such as grasslands, meadows, and edges of forests. Some species are also found in agricultural fields and gardens. Their presence in a specific location is heavily dependent on the availability of suitable camouflage and prey.

Grass mantises belong to different genera and species, each adapted to specific types of vegetation in their environment. Among them are Mexican grass mantis, American grass mantis, North African grass mantis (Oxyothespis dumonti), and Indian grass mantis.

Arizona unicorn mantis (Pseudovates arizonae)

The Arizona unicorn mantis is native to the desert regions of North America, particularly in Arizona. This species thrives in arid environments, adept at blending into its surroundings.

Arizona unicorn mantis

Characterized by a striped body in shades of dark beige to gray, this mantis boasts a lengthy thorax. The juvenile of this species has a lighter color. Its front wings feature a striking green hue adorned with three black patches each. What sets this species apart from other different types of praying mantis is the prominent projection on its head, resembling a unicorn’s horn, which is a rare trait among mantises.

Stick mantis

The stick mantises, often referred to as twig mantis, is a name used for different praying mantises that closely resemble sticks or twigs. These insects can be brown or green. They live in various habitats worldwide, from dense forests to shrubby areas. You can find them in Asia (the giant Malaysian stick mantis or Borneo stick mantis), North America (the Brunner’s stick mantis), South America (the small-winged stick mantis, Peruvian stick mantis, or Brazilian stick mantis), Africa (African twig mantis), and Australia (Australian stick mantis).

The stick mantis on a twig

Budwing mantis (Parasphendale affinis)

The budwing mantis is named for its distinctive, bud-like wing structure which does not fully develop in females. Originating from East Africa, this species thrives in warm and humid environments, often found in grasslands and bushy areas.

Males tend to be slimmer and more agile, with longer wings that allow for flight, whereas females are more robust and larger, measuring around 7 cm compared to males’ 4 cm. Their wings are shorter, extending to about half the length of the abdomen.

Budwing mantis
Source: Solent News & Photo Agency

This praying mantis species typically comes in light to medium brown, although there are also dark and beige variations. They sport numerous dark and light stripes across their body and legs. On the underside of their front wings, you’ll find a bright yellow-orange hue. The inner part of their front legs also shares this orange coloration. Their back wings are dark purple.

Giraffe Mantis (Euchomenella heteroptera)

Among many types of praying mantis, you can easily distinguish the giraffe mantis due to its elongated thorax, reminiscent of a giraffe’s neck. This adaptation not only aids in its camouflage among branches and leaves but also allows for an extended reach to catch prey. People also often confuse it with the stick bug. Its body is typically slender and green or brown. The male has a size of about 3 inches, while the female is bigger with 4 inches.

Giraffe Mantis
Source: Mantis Mayhem

Residing primarily in the tropical climates of Southeast Asia, this mantis thrives in dense, humid jungle environments where it blends seamlessly into the foliage.

Japanese boxer mantis (Acromantis japonica)

This fascinating species is found predominantly in Japan and parts of East Asia. Characterized by its unique posture that resembles a boxer ready to strike, this species thrives in warm, humid environments, often within dense vegetation where it can effectively camouflage and ambush prey.

Japanese boxer mantis

The Japanese Boxer Mantis exhibits a slender body, with remarkable front limbs that are held in a distinctive, upright position, mimicking a boxer’s stance. Its coloration ranges from vivid green to brown.

Glass Mantis (Sinomantis denticulata)

The glass Mantis has a unique and fascinating appearance compared to other types of praying mantis. This species is particularly noted for its delicate, almost glass-like appearance, contributing to its common name. The coloring of the Glass Mantis ranges from pale green to a more transparent hue, which aids in its ability to remain undetected by both prey and predators alike. It inhabits regions across East Asia, commonly residing in forests or grasslands.

Glass Mantis with a transparent look

Iridescent Bark Mantis (Metallyticus splendidus)

This is the most different species compared to other praying mantis above. Unlike typical triangular-headed mantises, it has a blunt head with round eyes and simple antennae. Its body is short and oval-shaped, adorned with breathtaking iridescent colors that shimmer in blues, greens, and purples.

Iridescent Bark Mantis nymph
The juvenile of this species is different than the other species’

Males and females of this species differ not only in size but also in color. Females, with their golden-green hue, measure around 3 cm in length, while males, displaying a blue-violet coloration, are smaller at about 2 cm long.

Native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia, this species thrives in humid, dense forest environments, where its slender, flat body allows it to blend seamlessly into the bark of trees, lying in wait for its prey.

Brown mantis (Archimantis latistyla)

The brown mantis, often distinguished by its remarkable size and coloration, is a species of praying mantis native to Australia. This mantis thrives in various habitats, including grasslands, woodlands, and gardens where it can blend seamlessly into its surroundings due to its brown hue.

Brown mantis (Archimantis latistyla)

This type of mantis exhibits a robust and elongated body. It can stretch up to 110 mm in length for females, with males slightly smaller. Its color palette ranges from light brown to a darker, more earthy brown. Some species can have cream or light yellow color. It’s known for its aggressiveness.

California mantis (Stagmomantis californica)

The California mantis is a type of mantis that lives mainly in the western United States, especially in California. It can also be found in other states like Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. This mantis is very adaptable and can live in different types of environments including grasslands, the edges of deserts, and even in gardens.

California mantis (Stagmomantis californica)

The California mantis exhibits a range of colors from yellow to green to brown. It features a slender body that can grow up to about 3 inches in length. Their wings show a mix of dark brown or black colors, while the wings at the back have a hint of purple.  Both younger and adult mantises have dark stripes across their abdomen. The inside part of their front legs is orange, and you’ll see some black spots near their jaws.

Zebra mantis (Omomantis zebrata)

Last but not least – the zebra mantis. You can guess its appearance based on its name. The Zebra mantis boasts a black striking pattern and two white dots on its green forewings, reminiscent of a zebra’s stripes. This feature not only provides an effective disguise among the grasses and foliage but also serves as a deterrent to potential predators. It’s a medium-sized species, with a body size of about 6 cm, slightly slimmer in males. They come in various shades of green, ranging from light to deep and shiny, sometimes even turquoise-green.

This praying mantis species lives in warm, subtropical, and tropical regions of Africa. It prefers areas with lots of plants for hiding and hunting. You can find it in different types of landscapes like grasslands and forests.

Zebra mantis
Source: iNaturalist

The world of praying mantises is incredibly diverse, with many different species exhibiting unique looks and behaviors. For example, the Dead Leaf Mantis uses camouflage to blend into its surroundings, while the Giant Asian Mantis is known for its impressive hunting abilities. Those are just 18 types among more than 2,400 mantis species. Which mantis do you like?

Reference: wikipedia


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