Finally, a book about praying mantises that doesn’t perpetuate the myth that female praying mantises always eat their mates. Sandra Markle writes in Praying Mantises: Hungry Insect Heroes, “Scientists report that mantises rarely do this in the wild.” It turns out that the myth was started when people kept praying mantises indoors to observe them. Female mantises require a lot of food to produce eggs and the people who fed them rarely supplied enough. The ravenous females ate anything presented to them at that point. When kept outside, the praying mantis often has enough to eat and her mate doesn’t become lunch.
Sandra Markle starts with a detailed look at the outside and the inside of a praying mantis. This is helpful for someone who has never looked closely at a praying mantis. Throughout the book are fabulous photographs and quick “mantis facts” that help capture a reader’s attention as he or she skims through. At the end, between “Digging Deeper” and the index, there are two activities. The first, strike time, relates to how extremely fast a praying mantis can grab its prey. The activity is easy to do and doesn’t require a mantis. The second is to observe a mantis up close in a jar for a day or two and then let it go. Just remember from above, it is hard to keep a praying mantis well fed.
We have had a praying mantis on the same plant for weeks now. Every morning we check to see that it is still there, and we’ve developed a fond feeling towards it. After reading this book we can now take our observations to another level.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 48 pages
Publisher: Lerner Publications (December 15, 2007)
If you’d like to see a photograph of our mantis, check my Growing With Science blog praying mantis post.