“Treehugger” tells us that, named for its prominent front legs that fold together in a gesture suggesting devotion, the praying mantis comes off as serene and soulful. You might think of them as docile things, moving about slowly, nibbling on orchids … but oh, how looks deceive. The truth is, mantises are ambush predators with lightning-fast moves.

With their long necks, upright posture, distinct faces, and direct gaze, they’re decidedly charismatic (or for some, like my daughter – terrifying).

But more than that, they are fascinating creatures that have mastered their place in the natural world. About 2,000 known mantis species exist around the world, exhibiting a wide and awe-inspiring array of adaptations to their environments.

They Were Once Thought to Have Special Powers

Well, obviously they have special powers. In some early civilizations like ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, and Assyria, however, people considered praying mantises to have supernatural powers. (The mantis part of the name comes from the Greek for prophet.).

But rather than show you some “normal” PMs, the photographer, Pang Way, has some more amusing shots of these crafty creatures. If you have got this far without freaking out, take a look through Pang’s gallery.  You’d never guess these little chaps were so gruesome based on their hilarious facial expressions and poses they strike for the camera.

They Engage in Risky Sex

Praying mantis mothers lay an especially large bunch of eggs, which means they need a lot of food. Which means, unfortunately for their mates, they may literally bite off their head and devour them. And they may even do this during the course of their three-hour mating session. A little bit of coital cannibalism may also add to the success of the copulation. Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do …

Because of the “praying” hands, some Christians say that the praying mantis represents spiritualism or piety, and if found in your home, may mean that angels are watching over you. Some Muslims say that the praying mantis is always facing toward Mecca. However, in Italy, some believe that if a praying mantis looks at you menacingly, it can make you sick

Seeing one can be considered good luck or bad, depending on which culture you’re from. In many cultures they are a reminder to be still and meditate – and boy can they jump!

Thanks to returntonow.net and Treehugger.com for all the facts and photos.