Why Praying Mantis Sacrifices Life During Sex?

BP World Research | Feb 21 2019
Image credits:freepik

“I didn't think I would die like this!! I thought I would settle down, and then have my wife bite my head off…”

This is an emotional dialogue from the movie ‘KUNG FU PANDA 2’.

But this seems very true to the life of Praying Mantis, an insect known for its ambush preying and praying-like stand.

Their prominent front legs folding stand seems to be engaging in the act of devotion. These slow moving insects are often confused with phasmids (stick insects).

Image credits:freepik

Their hunting ability is a notable feature as they throw themselves on their prey with a high speed and precision. They would change into a threatening mode by raising and rustling its wings when they are alarmed with any danger. The front legs of the insect help to snare the prey which is impossible to track with naked eyes.

The interesting fact is that the female mantids kills their male partner during mating, but lays about 200 eggs in a cocoon like capsule (ootheca). This egg case protects the eggs from adverse weather conditions and enemies. The nymphs would resemble as their adult mothers baring wings at their infant stage. What makes this insect different from others is that the female eats their male counterpart during mating.

Image credits:freepik

A mantid resembles to green or brown foliage, a dried leaf, a slender twig, lichen, a brightly coloured flower, or an ant.

This camouflage can live in both temperate and tropical habitats. They make use of protective colouration to blend in with the foliage or substrate. Some of the species in Africa and Australia can turn into black colour to bend with fire ravaged landscape.

Mantids can turn their heads to 180 degrees to inspect the surroundings and they have five eyes altogether, out of which two large compound eyes provide better vision.

Although they are venomous, they won’t harm humans. These predatory insects tend to be very aggressive even to their own species. Mantisises can jump with extreme precision.

Ancient Greeks called the insect as ‘mantis’ that means ‘diviner’, because they believe it has supernatural power. The superstition follows that the brown saliva of a mantid can cause blindness. Superstitions added further names to praying mantids as devil’s horse and mule killer as if the insect is eaten by a horse or mule, they will die for instance. 

Mantises lie in the family Mantidae and are the closest relative to Blattodea (cockroaches and termites). Their hunting mode is completely depended on vision, they are mainly diurnal. Many species among them can fly at night.