The giant Asian mantis

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A giant Asian mantis is seen resting on a twig in Bijia Mountain Park, Futian District. Photos by Isaac Cohen

The giant Asian mantis

The world of invertebrate animals is fascinating, especially when it comes to insects, which constitute almost 80% of the total animal species on our planet. Their huge populations speak about their undoubted success in evolution.


Shenzhen is home to more than 7,000 insect species from multiple orders. Still, one species especially has captivated human fascination for many years due to its unique shape and behavior: the praying mantis.


These astonishing insects have a very long thorax, a triangular head that can turn almost 180 degrees, a unique characteristic among insects, and a broad abdomen. But its most remarkable characteristic is probably its front pair of legs, a couple of long spiny limbs, sharp and with claws they use to catch their prey, also making possible an elevated pose that resembles a person’s position when praying.


A giant Asian mantis is seen resting on a twig in Bijia Mountain Park, Futian District. 

Praying mantises are carnivores, and using a compelling set of jaws, they feed mainly on insects.


The giant Asian mantis (Hierodula patelliufera), also known as the giant praying mantis, can strike such small vertebrate animals as frogs, lizards, or even birds.


They can grow up to 6 centimeters, with the female bigger than the male. The male is eaten by the female after copulation, providing an essential source of nutrients for the soon-to-be mother.


Praying mantises are fantastic masters of camouflage and are not easily seen by the naked eye. If you see one in your way, enjoy it and let it go, so it can continue participating in the dynamics of our rich urban ecosystem.