Praying Mantis & Mantis in France
Although the vast majority of Mantis species have their homes in tropical and sub-tropical climates France plays host to a dozen species most of which are in the Mediterranean region, some quite rare and only found in the coastal band. However the one that most people are familiar with, the Praying Mantis, (Mantis religiosa), can be found throughout all of France and much of continental Europe as far north as Denmark.
but like many insects they also have three small simple eyes located between them which largely go unnoticed by most people. Although called “simple” they aren’t at all simple. (Human beings have “simple” eyes see link at the end). Their triangular head has powerful mandibles and can rotate through almost 180° allowing them to remain motionless while looking around. Their vernacular name comes from the manner in which they hold their spectacular forelegs with hands joined as if in prayer. The importance of these strangely developed forelegs is to defend against attack and to grab and hold prey, never for walking although they may be used in climbing to pull themselves up or hang on. The males will also use their forelegs to hold the female during copulation. Although rarely seen they also have beautiful wings and can make short flights.
Preferred habitat is rough grassland and scrub but gardens even in towns can be equally attractive for them provided they are insecticide free. Diet is rich and varied with prey being captured using the forelegs which are armed with a series of angled spines that prevent the prey escaping. In their initial nymph stages they will eat aphids, baby spiders and other small insects but as they grow they take larger insects, flies, butterflies, bumble bees, solitary bees, anything in fact that settles within range of their forelegs. Even instances of small birds and hatchling snakes being eaten have been recorded.
One more point is that there appears to be no obvious environmental reason for them being brown, beige or green, both colours will be found in the same habitat and equally for both sexes which will breed with each other
Apparently a robust species with stable populations.