Our first fully adult Tenodera sinensis praying mantis emerged last night. This is the first of the hundreds we started out with who has made his final molt and become an imago. I wrote about him a few weeks back when he just had the buds of inchoate wings on his back. Now he has fully functioning wings along his abdomen, although he can’t fly very gracefully. Female T. sinensis (and Mantis religiosa, for that matter) are so large they often can’t fly at all and depend on mobile males to flutter around at night, homing in on their pheromone plumes.
If any of our other half dozen survivors make it to the final molt and turn out to be female (it’s almost impossible to tell until they are adults), we will put them together in a large cage and see if they will mate. Mantis mating is a chancy process. Sometimes the female eats her mates, though this isn’t as common as is widely assumed. But it does happen!
Tenodera sinensis, as their name suggests, originated in Asia, particularly the eastern areas of China and also Japan. Although this species was deliberately introduced in Pennsylvania as long ago as 1902 and has been around in the United States ever since, it hasn’t quite adapted to the seasons here. So although our Mantis religiosa female has already laid two oothecae, and is nearing the end of her life, these T. sinensis mantids are still just reaching adulthood. Females won’t mate for about a week at least after their final molt. So I’m not sure we will be lucky enough to get a mated pair here, as the winter cold and rain is coming soon.
Male T. sinensis do tend to mature faster than the females, since the females have to eat much more in order to grow to their enormous adult size. So in the wild, at least in the U.S., males typically appear in large numbers around August, September or October (i.e. now) and females show up later. We’ll see how it goes.
This male spends plenty of time on personal grooming, something I’ve written about recently.
Details of the wings:
Mantids have excellent binocular vision:
They’re quite curious creatures, too:
Here are some close up videos of the intense personal grooming these insects perform quite often: