Do Praying Mantis Have Wings?

Many insects lack wing-like structures on their small bodies, as their only mode of locomotion is crawling on the ground. However, praying mantis are an exception to other insects due to unique physical features, like triangular heads, wings, bulging eyes, longer front legs, etc.

Do Praying Mantis Have Wings? Praying mantis have a pair of wings on their abdomen that help locate food, capture prey, escape predators, camouflage, and threaten invaders. In addition, they also allow efficient reproduction and dispersal of nymphs to new habitats to avoid overcrowding. A few have thick and long wings, while others have short and vestigial wings.

They have four small wing-like structures of varying lengths on both sides of their bodies that support flight. They have different modes of locomotion: jumping, flying, and walking. In addition, they have a different lifestyle than other insects and can fly up to a short distance.

How many wings does a praying mantis have?

They have two pairs of wings on their bodies of varying size and shape. They are thicker in texture than other flying insects, and a boxy pattern is visible.

These structures are quite different from those of fruitflies because the fruitfly wings are delicate in texture. They are covered with small hair, unlike those of mantis.

In addition, the butterflies have scaly and larger wings than their bodies, but mantis have smaller structures attached to their bodies. Small hook-like structures are present on them.

So, they are not similar in texture, size, and shape to birds and other flying insects. They possess varying-sized wings, as a few species are macropterous, having longer wings.

In addition, a few of them are brachypterous, having shorter wings than their bodies. The outer pair are leathery in texture and narrow in size, known as tegmina.

However, the inner pair appears clear and delicate in texture. The outer pair plays a role in camouflage, while the inner pair contributes to flying behavior.

Others are micropterous species having vestigial wings that are only remnants of such structures. The apterous mantis is a wingless insect that cannot engage in flying behavior.

Furthermore, their number is the same in males and females, as they have two pairs of wings on their tiny bodies. However, their size is different between different genders of mantis.

Why do praying mantis have wings?

Wings are generally not present in insects because it is a characteristic feature of birds. However, the praying mantis possesses wings that are quite helpful in various functions.

Efficient reproduction

One of their primary functions in praying mantis is their role in the reproduction process. Both male and female mantis can fly to mate and lay eggs due to the presence of flying structures.

Most commonly, the males benefit from these flying structures because they usually approach a female partner to mate. The males have lighter bodies that can easily engage in flight.

The females are heavier and larger but possess smaller wings, almost half their abdomen length. She cannot fly higher and suspend herself in the air for a short time.

However, the male mantis mounted after landing on her body and grasping her abdomen from the backside. After that, she flies higher on the tree branches to lay her eggs in an ootheca.

Locate food

The praying mantis are not good at flying, but their wings support their activities to a great extent. They can efficiently locate food by moving around their territories.

So, these structures provide a mode of movement to these tiny insects in addition to jumping and walking on the tree surfaces. They can easily fly and land on different tree branches.

It allows them to look for food in their territories better without sitting in one place and waiting for the food there. They fly between trees and capture a variety of insects on them.

Capture prey

The flying potential of praying mantis enables them to capture prey more efficiently than those with wingless bodies.

It provides incredible accuracy and precision in attacking behavior and reduces the chances of missing prey. They can quickly jump ahead of the prey by flying towards them.

This way, they also support capturing prey quickly; otherwise, the air resistance can hinder their attacking behavior and timing of attacks.

I have seen my mantis approaching prey on the ground from the tree branch by spreading the wings in the air and landing on the insect with precision.

Furthermore, I think it would not be possible for the mantis to capture their prey precisely without having a pair of wings.

Dispersal to new habitats

The presence of wings-like structures on the bodies of praying mantis empowers them to choose their habitats instead of remaining at their birthplace for an entire life.

They can move to a new habitat using their flying potential when they find themselves in an over-crowded spot. Such overcrowding leads to a shortage of resources and living opportunities.

So, they disperse at different places after becoming mature adults and finding a suitable spot for their survival. It allows them to live alone and avoid the cannibalistic behavior of their fellows.

Escape predators

These wings help the mantis to defend themselves and escape ground predators.

They quickly fly away from the death spot after seeing a predator coming toward them, intending to attack their bodies. It becomes difficult for ground predators to capture them in the air.

This way, they can live longer due to less risk of predation, but the aerial predators can still pose a risk of attack to them. The snakes and animals living on trees or plants can capture their wings.

Accordingly, they can only survive from walking or crawling predators by flying a small distance from the ground, as ground predators cannot fly to chase them.


They also contribute to the camouflaging behavior of praying mantis due to colorful patterns on the underside. They spread wings to display the bright patterns that help threaten attackers.

The outer pair is generally involved in camouflage due to its bigger size and colorful appearance, while the inner pair supports flying behavior.

Moreover, the external pair helps deter predators when they spread their wings to startle them. They consider bright colors as warning signals and move away without attacking.

Can praying mantis nymphs fly?

Praying mantis nymphs are immature adults with less-developed bodies that directly emerge from an egg. Their nymphs cannot fly due to the absence of wing-like structures in the early stages.

They grow over a period of weeks or months and develop all external and internal body features. They also develop flying organs after reaching adulthood and completing developmental stages.

It takes some time for immature adult mantis or nymphs to develop into mature and well-developed adults.

In addition, they come out of the smaller buds on their abdomen when they become mature adults, enabling them to fly in the air.

So, the baby nymphs cannot fly in the air due to the absence of flying structures, but the mature adults can stay in the air for a while due to their wings.

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