From 4 to 8 centimetres long, the mantis is easy to recognise with its small triangular head, large eyes, and long thorax and body. It has strong forelegs covered in spikes that are useful for catching prey. It holds its forelegs bent, as if in prayer, from which it gets its common name of praying mantis. The female is bigger than the male. The mantis is green to yellowish brown, with camouflage colouration.
Inhabiting dry and sunny grasslands, shrubby areas and gardens, the mantis is found in Europe and Asia.
After mating, the female mantis typically eats the male. The female lays between 100 and 300 eggs in a frothy secretion that dries and hardens quickly, creating a protective capsule. Larvae hatch in the spring. The mantis can fly, although it is an ambush predator, spending long periods perfectly still waiting for prey — mostly insects — to come within reach.