Mantodea (or mantises) is an order of insects that contains approximately 2,200 species in 15 familiesworldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. Most of the species are in the family Mantidae. Historically, the term mantid was used to refer to any member of the order because for most of the past century, only one family was recognized within the order; technically, however, the term only refers to this one family, meaning the species in the other 14 recently established families are not mantids, by definition (i.e., they are empusids, or hymenopodids, etc.), and the term “mantises” should be used when referring to the entire order.
A colloquial name for the order in the United States is “praying mantises“, because of the typical “prayer-like” stance, although the eggcorn “preying mantis” is sometimes used since mantises are predatory. In Europe and other regions, however, the name “praying mantis” refers to only a single species, Mantis religiosa. The closest relatives of mantises are the orders Isoptera (termites) and Blattodea (cockroaches), and these three groups together are sometimes ranked as an order rather than a superorder. They are sometimes confused with phasmids (stick/leaf insects) and other elongated insects such as grasshoppers and crickets.
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