Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mantid Reproduction Story

A brief marriage, an amicable divorce, and a ...snack?

I have been keeping an adult female mantid in a screened "butterfly cage" on my back patio. This morning, I found a male perched on the outside of her cage, apparently attracted by her pheromones.

Sometimes these big limbata ladies will literally eat their way through multiple would-be suitors before they ever get a chance to mate. But I threw caution to the wind and threw him in there with her. He was clearly interested, and he crept closer and closer to her until, with one smooth little hop, mounted her, and she did not put up a struggle or reach back to grab him.

Then I thought to take a picture.


I took this photo through the top of the screen cage. I couldn't focus too well. I didn't want to spook her. Still she looks up at me, and says, "Must you?"


This afternoon I saw that they had finished mating, and the male was just behind her, I got him out of the cage. He flew onto a box of stuff on my patio table. I gave him a spritz of water, which I think he appreciated. He smiled and allowed me to take his picture, and then he flew up into the tree.



There he is in the tree. Goodbye, Mr. Mantis.


The female still inside the cage. I caught her doing something that, it turns out, some female insects will do after mating.
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But I have to warn some of you. (like Julie)
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This is kind of gross.
So if you don't want to see a gross bug thing,
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Or read about it,
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Now's the time to leave this post.
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So, anyway, the female mantid was bent over double, grabbing her own abdomen in her claws.
She was eating the spermatophore.
That's the little package the male left behind. I've read that sometimes there's a little something extra in there, called a nuptial gift. Sometimes the female will take out the spermatophore before fertilization takes place. And sometimes she will save it for later in an organ called a spermatheca.
I can't say for sure what this mantis was doing with her gift, but she was busy.







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