When I first picked her up, she tried to nail me. She reared up and threw her front legs toward my hand. If you look at her front legs, she has wicked raptorial spines on her legs. She uses these to reach out with lightening fast quickness and snatch her prey. Then she will squeeze it like a pair of pliers while the spikes impale the hapless victim. She usually eats the critter while it is still alive, struggling to get free. What a way to go! Large Chinese mantids, like this one, can even kill hummingbirds with those spines.
Here is a closeup of the raptorial spines on the legs. If you
are a bug, you are NOT escaping those.
I let her go on my hand and after she realized I wasn't going to eat her, she calmed down and just explored. Such a curious animal! I then let the kids take turns holding her. When I explained what she was doing and how to react to her, they were no longer afraid of her. It was great to see so many of them that had never held a big insect like that, grin with delight. It was great to see them conquer their fear of bugs.
After the program, I snapped some pics of her and set her free behind our building on a False Sunflower. I hope she lays her eggs back there, so I can watch for the little praying mantises this spring!
For more Camera Critters, go here.