Thursday, September 11, 2014

Praying Mantis Grooming

Recently Ward and I were outside doing a bit of work when I spotted a praying mantis. The first thing I noticed was that it blended perfectly with the plant it was on. It even had a bit of red on its head to match the red on the leaves. As we were marveling at that, it started to do something that we hadn't seen before. It started to groom itself. At least that's what it looked like. It was biting up and down it's legs and looked just like our cats do sometimes when they are cleaning their legs. And then, ever so cat like, it rubbed it's clean leg over it's head--just like our cats do. We were fascinated.

We had never thought about an insect grooming itself, but that is certainly what it looked like. A quick look on the internet revealed, that yes, indeed, praying mantises do groom themselves. In fact, when I widened the search to include all insects, I found out that grooming is something that many insects do. Who knew? I certainly didn't. From a brief skimming of the articles, it looks like the antennae are what are groomed the most because these are very important in transmitting sensory information. Cock roaches have had several studies done about them in this area.

I don't know if you can make out much from these pictures below, but trust me, it was very interesting to watch. Now I'm going to be on the lookout to see if I can observe grooming in other insects. Do you ever wonder how you can have lived so long and not know anything about something that is very common? It seems to happen a lot to me. I'm not sure what that implies, but I do know that it keeps life interesting.

When you first look, it's hard to see, but notice the praying mantis' triangular head is in the bend of its raised leg. This was part of its leg cleaning.

Notice the praying mantis is biting its leg. It did this all up and down it's leg.

Annie grooming her head and ears. This kind of grooming I'm familiar with.

Want to explore further?

Insects Groom to Improve Their Sense of Smell

Praying Mantis Grooming Video


  1. Well I never! I've learnt something new too...

  2. I was just watching a mantis in my Lantanas and it was grooming it's head like a cat.

    1. Pretty cool, huh? I've seen several praying mantises since I posted this, but I haven't seen any of them grooming. I hope you get to see them do it again.


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