Praying mantis displays some serious kung fu

There's a good reason Chinese martial artists for centuries have copied the movements of the praying mantis, as you'll see in this in-your-face display from a real practitioner.

Somayeh Kashi of Littleton, Mass., was getting together with family for Labor Day when a praying mantis was spotted inside the house.

For a little entertainment, Kashi and friends decided to take it outside, along with a camera. That's when the insect takes on what appears to be an aggressive stance and responds to a family member's attempt to distract it.

Someone even starts petting it, but at about the 40-second mark, it decides to do a Shaolin kung fu hustle out of the picture. "My husband's uncle took it outside and we began to taunt it and take pictures," Kashi said, and she's the one who tried to touch it and whose scream you can hear.

Perhaps this mantis is aware it's not an endangered or protected species, therefore not shielded from harm by law, as long rumored. The European mantis (Mantis religiosa, for you entomology fans) is actually the state insect of Connecticut, which also gave us tick-borne Lyme disease, but that's another story. And after some investigative reporting, we can reveal the Carolina mantid became South Carolina's state bug in 1988 (here's the legislative act).

Who would want to kill one, anyway, right? If you're a rose gardener, you love Mantis religiosa's taste for pesky aphids. Besides, you don't want to mess with a kung fu legend. According to praying mantis Kung Fu sifu Jon Funk (and others), a Shaolin monk was inspired to create the fighting system after watching one of the insects kill a cicada.