YES praying mantis can fly but probably not in a way other flying insects do. They have a clumsy flight and they can’t fly longer distances. Mantises are more of a jumping insect rather than flying. In fact, many mantises just can’t fly. In flying mantises, only males know how to fly. Females do possess wings but they just can’t take the flight. Perhaps you might like to know as to how do praying mantis fly.
Can Praying Mantis Fly in the Wild? – How Do Praying Mantis Fly?
Unlike adults, young mantises do not know how to fly for they don’t have wings; they just leap from point A to point B. However, the leaping ability of an immature praying mantis is far more powerful than any other insect. They will leap so quickly that if you blink your eye you’d probably find the same mantis at a different point.
Praying mantis twists its body while landing and their landing is so accurate that they just can’t get off the target.
Praying mantis twists its body while landing and their landing is so accurate that they just can’t get off the target. “This is akin to asking an ice skater who is rotating at the same speed as these mantises to stop suddenly and accurately face a specific direction,” Malcolm Burrows, an entomologist at the University of Cambridge.
Head-Movement of a Mantis During Flight
According to a Smithsonian magazine, the team of British colleagues attempted to take a closer look at a remarkable gymnastic feat of a mantis by making videos. What they saw was even more remarkable. The videos showed that the young praying mantis moves their head back and forth during flight—perhaps an adaptation to measure the distance as well as to land on a specific target. When they land successfully they shake their bodies just like a wet dogs does.
The team also observed that the praying mantis could rotate around 2.5 times (in mid-air) in one second. They don’t actually rotate their bodies. Praying mantis spins its abdomen and front legs so the body stays still. When the mantis is about to grab its prey it stops rotating its abdomen possibly in one-tenth of a second. Moreover, mantises hit the target with their headfirst.
Researchers also believe that many other flying or jumping insects seem to stumble upon the plant as they land. They just can’t land in a proper fashion. Praying mantis does it all too well.