Micro-CT of a Praying Mantis

Spring is approaching, and there is much to look forward too; warm weather, beautiful foliage and insects! Ok, besides the pesky flies, mosquitoes, spiders…. Well, maybe you are not anticipating the insects but there is one here at Micro Photonics that fascinated our interest.

Commonly known as a praying mantis, this name is actually inaccurate as mantis only accounts for some of the praying mantid family. Therefore, mantid is best used if you are unsure. These fascinating insects earned their “praying” name because of their characteristic front legs that resemble someone in prayer. Other unique aspects include their ability to rotate their heads 180 degrees, have 5 eyes and are cannibalistic. The five eyes consist of two large compound eyes and three smaller, simple eyes used to detect light. Besides mantids being active predators, their cannibalistic behavior is prevalent during mating where the female eats the male either during or after mating.

There are thousands of species of mantids through the world but some of the most common ones in eastern Pennsylvania include the Carolina, Chinese, and European mantises. Through careful investigation of our specimen it was determined to be a Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis). This was concluded because its wings extend past its abdomen and it has a distinguishing bright green line down the side of its wing casing (Figure 1). You are probably wondering why a Chinese mantis is found in Pennsylvania?  Mantids were introduced to the United States for pest control of other insects, mainly on farms or gardens. With a voracious appetite, they do a good job of controlling a variety of insects such as moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies and any other insect that wanders too close.

Figure 1. Chinese Mantis (Found by Ben Ache, Product Manager, Micro Photonics).

To demonstrate our insect scanning capabilities, this Chinese mantis was scanned on our SkyScan 1173 system at 40 kV, 200 µA and a pixel size of 46.32 µm. After scanning, a 3D model of the mantis was created in CTvox (Figure 2). A YouTube video of the mantis was also created to show both external and internal features.

Figure 2. Chinese Mantis created in CTvox



  1. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/praying-mantis/
  2. http://insected.arizona.edu/mantidinfo.htm
  3. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2154.html
  4. http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin/node/178
  5. http://www.ehow.com/info_8204392_praying-mantis-types.html
  6. http://www.insectidentification.org/mantises.asp


SkyScan 1173 Micro-CT






Pixel Size


Rotation Step


Scan Time



NRecon, DataViewer, and CTvox


Micro Photonics Imaging Laboratory, Allentown, PA

Courtesy of

Micro Photonics

Ben Ache, Product Manager and Brandon Walters, Laboratory Technician







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