The praying mantis seems to charm even those who don't care for bugs. With large, raptorial front legs folded as if in prayer and a head that swivels to watch passersby, the praying mantis appears almost human. Perhaps that's why people assume it must be protected. Like a multigenerational game of "Telephone," this myth has been passed down for decades from parent to child: It's illegal to kill a praying mantis.
In truth, no such legal protection for the praying mantis exists. It is not illegal to kill a praying mantis of any kind, anywhere in the United States. Not a single state or federal law forbids you from killing a mantid. Similarly, you are free to collect and keep a praying mantis from the wild.
That said, why would you want to harm one of these fascinating insects? Many gardeners consider them a beneficial insect, since they consume many of the pests afflicting our veggies. Two mantids are listed as official state insects: the European mantis in Connecticut, and the Carolina mantis in South Carolina.