This was outside out house and my son made me come out an look at it as he said they were an endangered species and rare and he took a picture of it and told me not to kill it as I could go to jail. I am not a fearless bug hunter...live and let live unless it enters the house, then
While this is the first time I had seen them since I moved into the city many years ago, I recalled seeing them all the time when I was young and was told they are beneficial because they would eat the "bad" bugs but they were very plentiful. I checked on Snopes and several other sites and it is not illegal - it is an urban legend that has been circulating since the 50's and may started because they do prey on other undesirable bugs and they do appear to be praying, which could be how the rumor started. Also Therprayingmantis.org indicated that some of the mantids are restricted int eh U.S. under the Non Invasive Species Act of 1992, which could cause a misinterpretation to fuel the rumor.
In researching, I did come across some interesting facts about this creature at Therprayingmantis.org
- "It is believed that the female mantis will eat the male after mating since the protein helps in egg development. " and they say "cougars" are "maneaters"!
- " The praying mantis is the only insect that can rotate its alien-like head almost completely around! "
- "The praying mantis is actually more closely related to the cockroach than to grasshoppers! " This makes me want to get the broom and go Wicked Witch of the West on our outdoor visitor..gross!
- In 1977, it became the state insect of Connecticut. I didn't know there were such a thing as "state insects".
- "In most mantids there is one ear in a form of a small slit near the legs and has two eardrums and tuned to25-60 kHz, which allows them to hear the ultrasonic sounds of bats as they near so they can dodge them quickly."
- "In China, roasted praying mantis eggs were eaten to treat bedwetting!" The gross out factor was likely a high motivator.