The praying mantis is a large insect that gets its name from its very long front legs that they hold in a position that resembles praying. Their front legs were adapted for catching prey. Mantises have stereo vision and locate their prey by sight.
The praying mantis has a voracious appetite for insects. They are a friend to farmers and gardeners. Their work is to be a natural form of pest control. They gravitate towards insects that do the greatest damage to crops, such as: grasshoppers, beetles and other small insects. They even prey on larger animals such as lizards or small birds.
Naturally occurring mantis populations can provide effective plant pest control. Gardeners who prefer to avoid pesticides may encourage mantises in the hope of controlling insect pests. While mantises are not mentioned in the Bible, locusts do figure prominently, as they are symbolic of God’s wrath when he delivers plagues. As mantises prey on locusts, they are beneficial insects in agriculture.
In temperate climates, autumn ushers in the worst moment of the year for the male praying mantises: the mating season. The male responds to the seductive dance of the female. He knows that after completing the mating ritual, he will be eaten.
After mating, females often eat the male. This provides her with nutrients so she does not have to hunt. This behaviour is essential to the survival of the species.
Due to this trait, the female of the praying mantis has garnered a reputation as a femme fatale. Some have hypothesised that submissive males gain a selective advantage by producing more offspring. There is an increase in the duration of copulation among males which are cannibalised. In some cases, it doubles both the duration and the opportunity of fertilisation.
The praying mantis is thus a symbol of protection of our tangible wealth. It reminds us that everything in life does and must indeed exist in a balance.