Praying mantids are charismatic insects that are considered beneficial to humans because of their insectivorous lifestyle and because of their aesthetic appeal. Despite this, many praying mantid species remain understudied. One species that occurs in the southeastern United States is the grass-like mantid, Thesprotia graminis (Scudder) (Figure 1). This small, cryptic mantid species is light brown to green in color and can easily blend in with pine needles and grass, making it difficult to detect in its natural habitat.
Although this mantid may be mistaken for a stick insect (Order: Phasmatodea), especially when its forelegs are held directly in front of the body and it resembles a blade of grass, the raptorial forelimbs reveal the insect’s true identity. There are 14 Neotropical species within the genus Thesprotia, all of which occur in South America except Thesprotia graminis (Rondon et al. 2007). The type specimen for this species is a male that was collected in Gainesville, Florida. It is vouchered in the entomology collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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