Today we caught another large, female Mantis religiosa — this one from the west end of Briones Regional Park, rather than the northeast corner — and introduced her to two males in one of our cages. Even though she promptly ate a grasshopper, she was still hungry enough to eat one of her potential suitors who was unwise enough to get in front of her.

This is a danger for male mantids — they need to approach carefully to avoid being mistaken for prey. Male spiders have the same problem. A male M. religiosa carefully approaches the female from behind, always watching which way she turns her head. If she looks towards him, he freezes until she looks away again. When he gets close enough, he leaps onto her suddenly, and clasps her with his legs, holding on to her back in a place she can’t easily bite him.

The second male in our cage didn’t seem put off by watching his fellow male get eaten. In fact, he used the distraction provided by her munching the other male to move in and mount her himself.

Mantis religiosa male

Close up view of the male Mantis religiosa, showing the spines on his raptorial forelegs and also his large eyes, which can see in almost every direction, and offer binocular vision to the front.

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Female Mantis religiosa eating male

The large, hungry female, who had just eaten a grasshopper, promptly seized one of the males and ate him, starting by biting off his head.

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One easy way to identify Mantis religiosa is by the “bullseye” pattern inside the front leg.

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Mantis religiosa

As she ate one male, the second one watched and waited for his chance.

 

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Mantis religiosa mating

Success!

One Comment on “Hungry mother

  1. Pingback: A good head on his shoulders? | Steven E. F. Brown

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