The praying mantis got its name from the way it holds its strong front legs clasped in prayer.
First introduced in Pennsylvania in 1895, the Oriental species is widely distributed in the eastern United States. About the size of a mosquito when it is born, the mantis soon learns to gorge itself on almost any harmful insect.
Full grown specimens are 3 or 4 inches long. Protective coloration, a head that pivots almost all the way around, and long, clawlike forelegs equip it for ruthless hunting.