National Geographic : 1950 May
Praying Mantis N 685 John G. Pitkin As an Engaging Pet the Mantis Belies Its Natural Role, Terror of the Insect World Walking on New York's Fifth Avenue, John G. Pitkin noticed a mantis "praying" in the First Presbyterian churchyard. Fascinated, he carried the insect home; as "Eloise" she became a family pet. Close-up studies of Eloise and other mantids follow. Powerful forelegs armed with cruel spines make the mantis a formidable hunter. Once within reach, no insect can escape its lightning-swift grab. Fearless, mantis attacks any living prey it can subdue. A cannibal from birth, it devours its own kind. Its popular name comes from a prayerful attitude while awaiting or stalking victims; "preying" better describes its predatory habits. Harmless to humans, mantis is a friend of gardener and farmer. More than 1,000 mantis species, chiefly tropical, have been recorded; only 15 are native to the U. S. One European and two Asian species, arriving as stowaways in egg form, have become established in parts of the Middle Atlantic States. Those shown here are Tenodera angustipennis, a narrow-winged oriental.