European mantis

(Mantis religiosa)

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


NNR - Unranked


not listed

European mantis
Photo by Babette Kis

European mantis is a large, exotic, predaceous insect. It is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. It was accidentally introduced into North America on nursery stock in 1899. In the 1930s, egg cases were imported and sold both as pest control for garden insects and as biological control of the spongy moth, then called the gypsy moth, in the eastern United States. The egg cases are still commonly sold today as a control for garden pests. European mantis now occurs across the United States and southern Canada, but it is mostly absent from the Midwest and the southeast. It is uncommon in Minnesota. It is often found in urban areas, including gardens, but it prefers natural areas with tall grass and dry bushes, including shrublands, savannas, pastures, meadows, and grasslands.

Adult females are 2¾ to 3½ (7 to 9 cm) in length, including the wings, which extend beyond the tip of the abdomen. Males are smaller, 2 to 2¾ (6 to 7 cm) in length. The body is greatly elongated. The color may be green, yellow, or brown. Studies have shown that the larva can change color many times in its lifetime to correspond to the color of the substrate (foliage) that it is on. The adult takes on the color of the larvae after molting. Adults do not change color.

The head is triangular. There are two very large compound eyes and three small simple eyes (ocelli). The compound eyes are on the front of the head, are bulging, and are directed forward. The ocelli are between and above the antennae bases. The antennae are short, thin, and thread-like. They are longer on the male than on the female. The head can be swiveled 180°, allowing the mantis to look “over its shoulder.”

The first section of the thorax (prothorax) is greatly elongated.

The forewings (tegmen) are mostly thin, pliable, and somewhat transparent (membranous). They may be green, brown, or yellow. The hindwings are clear and are much broadened from front to rear.

The front legs are adapted for seizing prey (raptorial). On each front leg the first segment (coxa) is greatly lengthened, and there is a large, oval spot near the base. The spot may have a white center, or it may be entirely black. The third and fourth segments (femur and tibia respectively) are armed with spines. The tibia is less than half as long as the femur. It has several teeth on the underside and no teeth on the upper side. The last part of the leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has five segments. The middle and hind legs are long and slender.



Female total length: 2¾ to 3½ (7 to 9 cm)

Male total length: 2 to 2¾ (6 to 7 cm)


Similar Species



Shrublands, savannas, pastures, meadows, grasslands, and gardens



July to October



Adults are active during the day. They are ambush predators, remaining stationary with their legs raised up as they wait for prey.

Females are too large and heavy to fly.

In 1992, a study was made of sexual cannibalism in Mantis religiosa in the wild. It found that 31% of the females would kill and eat their mate before, during, or after copulation. Once copulation began, the headless male would complete the process.


Life Cycle

In the south, adults are active year round. In the north, adults do not survive the winter, and egg cases (ootheca) overwinter.


Nymph Food

Insects. Nymphs are carnivorous when crowded together.


Adult Food

Insects, including caterpillars, butterflies, and moths


Distribution Map



24, 29, 30, 82, 83.






Mantodea (mantises)


Eumantodea (extant mantises)






Mantidae (mantids)








Subordinate Taxa

European mantis (Mantis religiosa beybienkoi)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa caucasica)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa eichleri)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa inornata)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa langoalata)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa latinota)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa macedonica)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa major)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa polonica)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa religiosa)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa siedleckii)

European mantis (Mantis religiosa sinica)



Gryllus religiosus


Common Names

European mantid

European mantis









Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.



The first segment of the leg of an insect, attaching the leg to the body, and connected to the trochanter. Plural: coxae.



On insects and arachnids, the third, largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. On humans, the thigh bone.



Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.



The first (forward) segment of the thorax on an insect, bearing the first pair of legs but not wings.



On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.



The modified, leathery front wing of grasshoppers and related insects that protects the hindwing. It may also serve as a camouflage, a defensive display, or a sound board. Plural: tegmina.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.





Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this insect.


This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

Jason Kingstrom

European mantis  


Egg case  


Babette Kis

Mantis religiosa European mantid

Mantis religosa, photographed at Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI, on August 23, 2022. There were 6 mantids on a 20 x 100 foot area of this prairie.

  European mantis Photos











Visitor Videos

Share your video of this insect.


This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.



Other Videos





Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this insect.


This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Be sure to include a location.

Jason Kingstrom

Location: Renville County, Sacred Heart

Egg case

European mantis
Babette Kis

Location: Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI

Mantis religosa, photographed at Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI, on August 23, 2022. There were 6 mantids on a 20 x 100 foot area of this prairie.

European mantis Sightings






Created: 9/29/2023

Last Updated:

© All rights reserved.

About Us

Privacy Policy

Contact Us