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September 13, 2012

Learn more about this year’s BugFest’s featured bugs, mantids!

NC Museum of Natural Sciences Exhibits Blog

By Wendy Lovelady

As Bugfest fast approaches, I’ve been thinking more about mantids, those alien-like arthropods with long, graceful limbs that belong to the order Mantodea.  The Praying Mantis is the most commonly-known, but there are more than 2,400 species of mantid found in temperate and tropical habitats worldwide.

One of the best parts of working at our Museum is the daily opportunity to learn about weird, exotic, or unusual animals. Mantids are an excellent example.  They are named after the Greek word for “prophet.” They are sometimes confused with walking sticks or leaf bugs, but they’re more closely related to cockroaches and termites.  Their forelegs are called “raptorial legs,” because they use those spiky appendages to capture and grasp prey. If there is an insect equivalent to the famed Velociraptor, the mantid has got to be it.

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