McDowell Technical Community College

Kid’s Corner

An Insect that Prays?

By Christy Lowman

Burke County

Did you know that there is an insect that prays? Well, at least he stands in the position that looks like he is praying. And he does prey on other insects, birds, mice, frogs, and lizards for its meal. But prey is not the same as pray is it? Do you know the difference? Praying is talking to God, while preying is hunting down something alive to eat. Have you figured out the insect I am talking about yet? If you guessed the Praying Mantis then you are correct!

The praying mantis, when standing in the upright position looks like it is spending its time devoted in prayer, but it is really patiently waiting to prey on another living thing for its next meal. I was shocked to read that these insects can even eat, birds, (particularly hummingbirds), mice, frogs and lizards. The females also sometimes eat the male praying mantis! They like to eat only live things.

The praying mantis would not survive if it wasn’t for their ability to camouflage themselves. They are master disguisers. The tropical praying mantis, which is pink, position themselves into looking like a flower. This is one way they are able to catch hummingbirds and other insects. Other mantises are green or brown and are able to disguise themselves like sticks or leaves. This insect can move with precise cat-like jumps and will grab their prey with their front legs in a lightning fast motion that even the human eye can’t see! They will also use their spikey back legs to hold their victim down, then they paralyze their soon-to-be-meal by biting it on the neck. They sound like viscous creatures, don’t they?

The smallest praying mantis is only one centimeter long while the largest is 12 inches. The praying mantis is the only insect that is able to move its head in a complete 180 degrees. They have a triangular head followed by a long neck. On each side of their head is a compound eye. These two eyes have a concentrated area that is called a forea, which allows the mantis to be able to see the slightest movement, and track it with accuracy up to 60 feet away. These eyes also provide the mantis with stereovision, which is being able to see in 3D. The praying mantis also has three simple eyes between the two compound ones.

They have very powerful jaws for chewing, leathery wings for flying, and ultrasonic ears. Some are even equipped with a hollow chamber in their bodies that allow them to pick up on bat echolocation. They are then able to change their flight pattern to a downward spiral to escape from being eaten by the bat.

It sure seems like God gave the praying mantis many special abilities, doesn’t it? Did you know that the word mantis came from the Greek language, meaning “prophet” or “soothsayer?” The Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Assyrians thought that the praying mantis had “super powers.”

Although, praying mantises really do not have super powers, God did bless them with many gifts to help them survive. Just like God provided us with the armor of God. We can not equip the armor without doing one important thing. Do you know what that thing is? PRAYER! There is no way to access the armor of God, unless we first pray to God. Prayer is the key to putting on and wearing your armor of God. It is also our only way to communicate with God. Consider it a lifeline that connects you directly to Him. It is everything! You cannot even ask God to save your soul without prayer.

I know that last month I told you that we were done covering the pieces of the armor of God. Even though prayer isn’t one of the pieces, it is the only way to activate the armor!

Dear Lord, I pray that You will encourage each child to grow their relationship with You through prayer. Open their hearts, minds, and eyes to Your will for them. Help them desire to talk to You freely about anything. Grow their faith by showing them Your miracles, and by becoming their true best friend. In Jesus’s precious name I pray, Amen.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:12) NIV

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24) NIV