How Do Praying Mantis Move?

Praying mantis do not move often and remain motionless for a significant part of the day because they only move after seeing prey and predator. Their habitat and other environmental factors determine movement patterns and frequency of engaging in motion. They usually change position to grab food, mate, and avoid predators.

How Do Praying Mantis Move? Praying mantis move by coordinating the motion of forelegs and hind legs and rotating their abdomen to ensure a safe landing. They can jump, leap, walk, sway, climb, and engage in a rocking motion. Adult praying mantis can fly, but nymphs cannot fly due to the absence of wings. They move with lightning speed and show cat-like agility in their motion.

It is rare to see a praying mantis moving in the garden as they generally remain hidden behind tree leaves and branches. They spend most of their lifespan in one place unless they do not feel safe there. They move to a different location if no food is available.

How do praying mantis move around?

They are agile insects that can quickly move around their habitats after seeing prey and predators. They are adapted to engage in different locomotory and non-locomotory movements.

They have two pairs of limbs and coordinate forelimb and hind limb activities to engage in a specific type of movement. They do not stumble or crash on the ground while landing.

Moreover, they can efficiently manage the direction of movement by rotating their abdomen. First, they look around by turning their head at a 180-degree angle and estimate the targeted distance.

These insects prepare themselves for a jump or leaping motion by wiggling their bodies back and forth. They push their bodies forward by moving their hind legs in backward direction.

Praying mantis curl their abdomen and rotate their bodies while moving towards the target. They have a controlled spinning motion that feels like a wave, starting from the front legs and ending in the hind legs.

They rotate the body in mid-air while adjusting its center of mass to avoid crash landing on the targeted spot. This abdominal rotation stops when they are about to land on the ground or rod.

It is challenging to maintain a stable movement by controlling the rotating motion of their abdomens. However, these insects manage to land on the targeted spot with precision.

It starts from the swaying of heads to scan the territory for threats, followed by the rocking motion and curling of abdomens. A leg push initiates the process of launching in air and abdominal rotation.

So, the front legs, abdomen, and hind legs are involved in movement when rotated in a specific pattern to gain angular momentum after launching themselves in the air.

Type of movements in praying mantis 

Praying mantis engage in different types of movement in different situations. They can walk on the ground, leap in the air, jump or climb from different spots, and sway their bodies.

Leaping or Jumping

One of the common types of movement in praying mantis is jumping, which allows them to move to a small distance. They can cover a distance of almost 6 to 15cm by jumping ahead.

They can perform incredible jumps or show leaping behavior to reach prey quickly. They leap into the air by pushing their bodies with the help of their hind legs and approach prey.

Moreover, they can jump at objects, like rods or tree branches, while trying to hunt insects. This jumping behavior also facilitates escape if predators try to grasp their bodies.

They also jump within an enclosure to keep themselves active and hang on the cage wires. It is a typical behavior of healthy mantis as they do not like sitting quietly in a cage’s corner.


Praying mantis can walk on the ground, tree branches, and leaves as their legs support the walking motion. However, they walk slowly to avoid identification by predators and other organisms.

I saw a small European mantis moving on the tree branches in my garden, getting closer to the tiny worm present at a small distance.

They slowly move ahead by walking on their six limbs, but four hind limbs are commonly involved in walking motion. The front pair of limbs are involved in capturing or hunting prey.


They can engage in flying behavior because these insects develop wings in the last molting stage. Their wings support flying motion and enable them to change location.

However, the nymphs lack wings and rely on their legs and abdominal rotation to change position. Adult mantis has two pairs of wings of different lengths and patterns.

They cannot fly long distances with smaller wings and only move to different locations within the same habitat. Their wings support mating flights when the males try to mount on females.

Rocking or swaying motion

Rocking motion is also observed in praying mantis when they are camouflaging behind moving objects like green leaves. They have to sway or move back and forth to blend with the background.

They move body sideways or sway their heads while scanning the external environment for the presence of predators or prey animals. The rocking motion feels like dance moves, but they are camouflaging.

These side-to-side movements are quite rhythmic when they sway bodies in the air. They also show rocking movements before launching themselves in the air for a jump.

In addition, this type of motion also helps see objects present at a distance because they cannot see beyond a specific limit. So, this rocking motion helps see distant objects or launch in the air.


They can climb vertical surfaces like walls when they need shelter in small gaps within walls. They also walk higher on walls when they need sunlight exposure in winter.

In the same way, climbing is a usual behavior in the daily lifestyle because they live on plants and climb the vertical stems of plants to reach leaves or flowers.

One of my friends released a praying mantis in the garden and found it climbing on the trees or plant stems. It targeted insects living on plants and climbed stems to reach them.

How fast does a praying mantis move?

Praying mantis have a sedentary lifestyle and remain motionless most of the time, but they are quick in their actions. They can strike prey with the speed of lightning and great accuracy.

Their speed does not compromise their landing perfections as they can easily manage precise and accurate landings. People relate their agility with cats as they have remarkable skills.

Moreover, it is challenging for a person to assess their attacking behavior or strikes as it takes less than a blink of the human eye. It equals less than a tenth of a second required to grasp prey.

They can jump and land on the prey’s body within the blink of an eye because they do not act quickly until they reach within striking distance.

Their patience pays them off, as their hunting practices are mostly successful. It rarely happens that a mantis loses its prey because it remains motionless for a few minutes before attack.

Do praying mantis move slowly at night?

Praying mantis can see through darker environments and perform different activities like hunting, camouflaging, and other life activities.

A few diurnal species cannot see well at night because they are adapted to hunt prey in the daylight. Their landings and striking precisions are not up to the mark at night.

So, the movement efficiencies and accuracy of landing on the ground change for diurnal species at night as they usually sleep at night.

My pet praying mantis is also diurnal and finds moving around in the environment difficult. It jumps within a cage but falls on the cage floor repeatedly.

It shows that the diurnal species cannot move efficiently at night, but this problem is not with the nocturnal species. They can see well in the dark as they have adapted to night hunting.