Section 13 : History of the praying mantis in human culture
The word "mantis" originated in the greek language. Not all mantids are called "praying mantis". The only mantis which is officially known by the common name "Praying Mantis" is the Mantis Religiosa or European Mantis for which the term was first used as a name for the insect. The word "mantis" translates as "prophet" in the english language. Since the term "praying mantis" is spelled with an A in the earliest transcripts penning the common name of one specific species "mantis religiosa", it is assumed that the description refers the prayer position when the mantis is about to capture prey. Since the scientific name is "mantis religiosa" and the common name was originally spelled praying mantis, it is to be assumed that the name is used to describe the prayer position. Some hobbyists will often spell the name "preying mantis" due to the fact that they are predatory insects. The most accepted plural form of the word mantis is "mantids" although it is not considered incorrect to use the term "mantises" if you wish. In historical times, many cultures handed down mythical stories about mantids, that mantids would lead a person home if they followed the direction of the mantis. Many cultures still beleive the mantis can bring good luck. Mantids have also been feared by some cultures through ignorance and false fears due to the physical appearance. Mantids and mantis oothecae (egg casings) have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. There are near 2000 different species of praying mantis insects. The most commonly seen mantis is the chinese mantis but there are several different species that look far different than the standard common mantis image. The chinese mantis and the european mantis were imported into the United States by cargo ships and by the USDA in cooperation with farmers in the effort to reduce pest insect populations on crops in the United States. The two imports have likely eliminated a large population of the smaller lesser known U.S. Mantis species'.
In historical times in many cultures, mantids were feared. None of the estimated 2000 species' of praying mantis are poisonous, mantids are also not aggressive to humans. In very rare cases, mantids have injured humans. The most likely cuase of a bite or grasp from a mantis is panic on the part of a human when a mantis accidently lands on them. Ggrasping mantids may also provoke a bite or grasp of your finger. The very minor wound inflicted by a mantis would be equal the wound inflicted by accidentally grasping a rose thorn.