What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Mantids are predominantly rather large and slender terrestrial insects. They are found in all the warmer parts of the world but show their greatest diversity in the tropics. Some 1800 species are known.

The name mantis is derived from the Greek for seer or prophet, probably an allusion to its apparently praying stance. Mantids appear in the mythology and folklore of many cultures from the ancient Egyptians to present times.

The fossil record, although sparse, is sufficient to indicate a common Palaeozoic ancestry with the Blattodea. Although originally classified as a family in the order Orthoptera, or combined, for example, with the Blattodea in the Dictyoptera (Richard and Davies 1977), the Mantodea is now more generally regarded as a separate order (see also Kevan 1977 for full discussion).

General accounts of the order are given by Chopard (1949a) and Beier (1964).


Mandibulate, predacious, exopterygote Neoptera; head freely mobile; antennae multisegmented and usually filiform; fore legs raptorial with large mobile coxae; mid and hind legs cursorial; tarsi almost always 5-segmented; fore wings modified into hardened tegmina, hind wings membranous; tegmina and wings may be fully developed, shortened or (particularly in females) absent; specialised auditory organ on metathorax; cerci multisegmented; male genitalia strongly asymmetrical; eggs enclosed in an ootheca.

  • Amorphoscelidae; Paraoxypilus tasmaniensis, female

  • Amorphoscelidae; Cliomantis sp.

  • Mantidae

  • Mantidae; Hierodula majuscula