Biology Question #527

Dan Van Brunt, a 21 year old male from Thunder Bay asks on January 9, 2002,

Recently a friend of mine took a picture of what he thought was a grasshopper out at his camp far from city life. I later took a look at his close-up picture and I'm no bug expert but I'd be willing to bet the farm that is was some form of Praying Mantis. Up to this point I was under the belief that no Mantids lived anywhere near Thunder Bay, Ontario. Could this insect be a form of Praying Mantis?

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The answer

Peter Belton answered on January 10, 2002

The European praying mantid, Mantis religiosa L, was introduced into North America in the late 1800s. Adults are hard to mistake for anything else, 2.5 to 3" long, brown to green (variable) and around on tall plants (golden rod, milkweed) from August until frost. I don't see any records that far west (Thunder Bay), but it is found around the Great Lakes and may have arrived by boat. You could try to reach the Great Lakes Forestry Centre in Sault Ste Marie, where they have experts who survey and identify insects. You should be aware that we have much smaller native insects (not mantids) with similarly adapted front legs. Tell your friend always to include a scale with insect photographs. That would help make a definitive identification.

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