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The Lie: Evolution



By Karl C. Priest 7-12-98

First, a test. Relax. It is a true-false test and you can grade it yourself. Following are some statements about the praying mantis that are believed by various groups throughout the world. Don't peek ahead to get a better score.

The praying mantis: 1. is protected by federal or state law. 2. kills only harmful insects. 3. will stretch its legs to show a lost child the way home. 4. grows on trees in the form of leaves and becomes an insect when it matures and falls off. 5. rings the dead back to life. 6. by landing on someone signifies that person should be declared a saint. 7. has secretions that kill mules. 8. has a gaze that causes illnesses. 9. as created to show the proper posture for praying. 10. is descended from a line of worms that grew legs and developed the legs into antennae, mouthparts, and reproductive equipment.

Now, if you answered "false" to each item your score is 100%. Item 1 comes as a surprise to most people, but you will not go to jail if you harm a mantis. Hopefully, after reading this article you will not want to harm one of God's amazing creatures. Item 2 will be discussed below. Items 3-10 are pure myths that have to be believed by faith. Consider some facts.

There are about 1800 mantis species in the world with about 20 in the USA and two living in West Virginia. In our state we find the imported Chinese mantis (3-5 inches) and the native Carolina mantis (about 2 inches). Scientists disagree about how to classify these insects. Some group them with grasshoppers. Others put them in an order (group) of their own. Evolutionists claim mantises evolved from the same ancestor as the cockroach, but the mantis "departed from the usual plant-eating habits of their relatives". But, that's getting into the realm of belief, not observable and testable evidence. There are many things about the mantis that can be observed.

In researching this article I noticed that once the obligatory homage to evolution is made, scientists are very much like me in being awed by the miraculous mantis. For example, in referring to the lightning speed and strong muscles of the mantis forelegs scientists make comments like: "superbly equipped", "unique and sophisticated trap", "their raptorial front legs are wonderfully designed". I can't say it any better myself.

Let's take a look at the eating habits of the mantis. First of all, they eat only live insects and the do not discriminate between the good (honey bees) and the bad (garden pests). Overall they do more good than harm and their ability to catch prey is fascinating. Scientists have used sophisticated equipment to study this subject, but you can enjoy watching a mantis with the naked eye. If you spot one it is worth the time to pause and watch this wondrous occurrence. As you watch here are some scientific facts to keep in mind.

The mantis has compound eyes with hundreds of individual optical elements known as facets. A discussion of these facets alone could fill this entire page. This design gives the mantis a view that can be described as stereoscopic and allows both near and far vision. Both eyes cooperate to focus on the same target. This allows extremely effective tracking of small and fast objects. When the mantis turns its head it bends tiny hairs at the side of the head causing a message to be sent to the central nervous system which relays a signal to the forelegs with data about the distance and size of the victim. This powerful means of estimation allows for precision in deciding the range at which to strike. The mantis can easily snatch a fly from the air.

In the next article we will find out if the female eating her mate is a myth. Also, we will talk about the mantis life cycle and whether or not they make good pets. Look forward to more facts that show evolutionism doesn't have a prayer when it comes to explaining the phenomenal praying mantis.


By Karl C. Priest 8-12-98

Does a praying mantis bride devour her groom? The answer is--sometimes, but not usually. Research shows that of the hundreds of different kinds of mantises the occurrence is rare in the wild. When it does happen it can be attributed to hunger in the female. For nearly 100 years science unquestionably accepted the myth that mating cannibalism was necessary for the mantis species to survive. Careful scientific research contradicts that imaginative fairy tale.

First, a male mantis is capable of mating several times. Second, he does everything he can to avoid being eaten. The male follows an elaborate multistep dance-like ritual that includes a cautious approach that can last a couple of hours. At times, he will freeze his position and may hold a couple of legs suspended in mid-air. (Remember playing "Red-light/Green-light as a child?) When the female gives him the correct signal he jumps onto her. If he misses she cooperates until he gets into the correct mating position. When he finishes (mating can take hours) he disengages his forelegs and suddenly releases the other legs at once to get clear of his mate and make a hasty retreat. Unless the female is starving there is no selection benefit to mating cannibalism.

Eventually the female will deposit a foamy egg case (usually on a twig). She does this without looking while hanging upside down. Inside the egg case she places up to 400 eggs, covers them with stored sperm, and leaves tiny passages through the sticky mass. The walnut size incubator then hardens into a warm protective home for her developing offspring. If the eggcase survives predators like squirrels the babies emerge about the middle of June.

They wiggle out head first encased in a thin membrane and, like bungee jumpers, dangle from fine silken threads they have secreted. Quickly, the babies (about the size of mosquitoes) shed their covering and begin to do exactly as they are programed to do. As the weeks pass they shed their exoskeletons until reaching the adult stage with fully developed wings.

The praying mantis is a tidy insect. It is not interested in eating anything but fresh (as in alive) meat. After it eats, the mantis will groom itself like a cat. It meticulously cleans its forelegs then uses them to thoroughly clean its head. Also, it pulls each of its other legs through its mouth.

The female mantis makes an interesting pet and can become quite tame even allowing gentle stroking of the top of the thorax (mid-section). If a mantis is threatened or hungry it will strike at a finger producing a harmless pinprick sensation. This elegant creature is well worth observing as a pet even if for only a week or two.

There are some mantises that have an extremely elaborate coloring camouflage that rivals that of any animal. Some can blend so well with trees and leaves they are almost impossible to see. They even sway as if being moved by a gentle breeze. The most fantastic are the rose (India) and orchid (Malaysia) mantises. Their coloring is lavender-violet or bright pink with appropriate greens and strategically placed dark shades. It will bend its abdomen into a precise replica of a flower part. Even experts mistake them for a blossom.

The praying mantis is feisty and unafraid of humans. It’s also a personable insect that is a great example of a gift from a creator with unfathomable intelligence and ingenuity.


The “Myths of the Mantis” articles were the basis of “Ready to Pray”.