Habitat selection by mobile animals is strongly influenced by habitat characteristics that allow for effective predator avoidance, increased foraging efficiency and reproductive success. Often predator avoidance takes priority; this can be achieved through choosing habitats with high structural complexity. By contrast, the praying mantid Ciulfina inhabits structurally simple tree trunk habitats in woodlands and rainforests of northern Queensland, Australia. Field observations and experiments revealed a strong preference for tree trunks with a smooth bark type and small circumference. Subsequent laboratory experiments supported these field results, and further indicated that the preference for such habitat structures may be associated with a faster running speed across the smooth textured bark and around trunks of a smaller circumference. Ciulfina run to escape predation and actively forage across the open tree trunk habitat. Thus selecting smooth trees with small circumference facilitates increased running speeds and thereby may increase foraging ability and predator avoidance.