Adult praying mantis can fly. They develop wings in their final moult when reaching adulthood, at which point they are able to fly. That said, praying mantis are quite clumsy in flight, and tend not to fly long distances.
Do Both Male and Female Praying Mantis Fly?
Both male and female praying mantis are capable of flight as adults. However, female praying mantis tend to be much heavier and chunkier than males. They are therefore less accomplished flyers.
Male praying mantis, in contrast, are far more slight. As a result they tend to be better at flying, but even these males are unlikely to fly long distances.
Do All Praying Mantis Fly?
Praying mantis go through partial metamorphosis. Immature praying mantis generally resemble the adults quite closely, with the absence of wings. That is to say that only adult (mature) praying mantis have usable wings.
Younger specimens only have tiny “buds” on their back where the wings will ultimately develop. These bug wings are unusable.
As a result only adult praying mantis can fly.
What Do Praying Mantis Wings Look Like?
Praying mantis wings are quite fine and fragile. They largely resemble dragonfly wings being opaque in color and heavily ribbed to offer structural support.
Such a fragile body part is of course at danger as the praying mantis clambers about in bushes and shrubs. As a result, when the mantis is not flying these wings are normally carefully folded away, and lay flat on the praying mantids back.
When the praying mantis wants to fly it carefully opens up it’s fragile wings ready for use.
The reverse mechanism happens on landing, when the wings are gently folded back away to keep them in good conditions.
How Many Wings Do Praying Mantis Have?
Most praying mantis have two pairs of wings. The front pair that are seen to fold down over the other set of wings to lay flat on the body. The rear pair of wings tend to be much finer and more fragile.
How Far Can a Praying Mantis Fly?
Praying mantis are quite ungainly when on the wing. As a result they don’t fly long distances, nor do they migrate like a Monarch butterfly. Most commonly praying mantis will fly only short distances typically measured in a matter of metres.
Praying mantis rarely take off from the ground, and instead prefer to launch themselves from a surface off the ground. Examples could include climbing up tall grass, bushes and shrubs. Once they’re happy with the height they’ve gained they are able to take off and fly for short distances.
Why Do Praying Mantis Fly?
Praying mantis are most likely to fly for one of two reasons.
Firstly, male praying mantis may fly in order to find females in the breeding season. Female mantis are known to produce pheromones like many moths do. This draws in males from the surrounding area, who may fly to reach the desired area.
The second reason for a praying mantis flying is to escape from danger such as a predator. As an example, if you pick up a praying mantis on your hand it may try to fly away to escape you.
Do Praying Mantis Hunt in Flight?
Praying mantis are ambush predators. They hunt by sitting motionless in grass, flowers and shrubs. When a potential prey insect gets too close they strike and catch the unfortunate animal.
Praying mantis do not hunt when flying. Unlike dragonflies, which do hunt on the wing, the flight of praying mantis is far too clumsy for them to be able to catch prey. Only when they land back down to the earth will they once again begin to hunt.