The first time that I recall ever learning about endangered species was during a walk in my neighborhood growing up. I happened upon the largest ‘grasshopper’ I’d ever seen – which was actually a mantis. I was fascinated by its size and extraterrestrial-like features (I was a big fan of aliens growing up, which is probably a post for another time). Unlike most kids at that age, I was not big fan of killing bugs – and I remember whoever I was with informing me that it was illegal to kill one.

As I was walking out of my house on the way to an evening photo shoot for one of my clients, I saw my boyfriend Josh crouched down at our fence in the back yard with his phone taking pictures. As I walked up, I realized he was photographing a praying mantis. Last fall, Josh and I discovered that our property is home to many of these creatures. I feel like it was the universe’s gentle reminder that this project is important.

Praying Mantis - Endangered Design

Photos by Josh Darbee (Top Left) and Rachellynn Schoen

While many believe the majority of the mantises species to be endangered (even to go as far as suggesting that it’s illegal to kill them), according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, only one Spanish species, Apteromantis aptera, is listed as near threatened. However, it can be assumed that mantises all over the world are under threat from habitat degradation.

That said, I figured I would still execute a pattern for the mantis – because I find them majestic, with their angular anatomy and ability to blend in with the environment.

A few interesting facts I learned about the mantis:

  • The mantis will eat their own kind! (Ex: Sometimes the adult female will eat her mate just after—or even during—mating.)
  • They can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings.
  • In the U.S., the mantis we see most often are likely exotic species due to their introduction–particularly the Chinese mantis (Tenodera aridifolia).