Praying Mantis Legends

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A praying mantis has long, slender limbs and seemingly thoughtful movements. This insect is named after its prominent front legs, bent in a pose of prayer.  Many legends associated with the praying mantis are in regards to these legs shifting into positions worthy of body language interpretation.

On a recent ecotour to Borneo, we spotted this praying mantis resting on the grounds of our rainforest lodge. Our guide Minchu explained that according to local legend, “if you ask a mantis how someone is sleeping, it will move to show you if they are having bad dreams or resting soundly.” 

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Elsewhere across the globe, some think a praying mantis will motion a lost child in the direction of home. Others believe that the insect ‘prays’ towards Mecca.

According to Kung Fu legend, in 1368 AD a Buddhist Wang Lang observed a praying mantis hunting a cicada. When Lang attempted to brush away the giant insect with a reed of stalk, the brave mantis attempted to defend himself by gripping the stalk. It is said that this interaction in a Monastery garden inspired principles within the Chinese Martial Arts practice.

This odd-looking bug is one excellent hunter. It can quickly snatch prey – like grasshoppers, moths, crickets and flies – with spike-lined legs, piercing quarry with small spikes. A female praying mantis will even eat her mate during or after mating. 

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Learn more about the praying mantis species and check out this gallery of insect eggs

Photo Credits: Jodi Kendall, captured on a Terra Incognita Ecotour to Borneo.



  1. Outsouricng web development company
    November 23, 2010, 4:38 am

    This pictures are really beautiful and nice to see the Insects and they are looking pretty good on the leaves.
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