Praying Mantiss

Praying Mantis’s MANTODEA Most commonly known as the Praying Mantis, order mantodea is a group of about 1800 carnivorous insects which prodominatley live in tropical regions of the earth. Though certain species can be found in locations with moderate climate. With an extremely striking appearence, mantids almost have human like qualities with the ability to hold an erect stance, and arms that face forward. A very efficient killer, mantids were created for hunting and killing prey. Order Mantodea is in the subclass Pterygota.

As with all classifications there can be debates on where certain orders or species belong. Historically there has been some confusion on whether Mantodea deserves there own order. Some experts have placed Mantodea in the dictyoptera order along with cock roaches (Ramel 1996, Jaques 1981, Phoenix Zoo). Others say mantids belong in Orthoptera, which consists of grasshoppers. Experts say this is due to their large pro notum (Stokes 1983, Borror and White 1970).

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The emerging consensus around the position of Mantodea believes Mantodea constitute their own independent order of insects. Mantids can be characterized by their triangular head, and filiform antennae. This head has the ability to turn 180 degrees. With their prominate pair of compound eyes located on Peters 2 the sides of the head, the mantis can almost see 360 degrees around. However the sharpest vision is located in the compound eyes center, for the mantis to optimaly see objects it must turn its head so that the eye is facing the object.

These eyes are extremely sensitive to light, changing from light green or tan in bright light, to dark brown in the dark. The prothorax of the mantis is another aid in giving them their distintive appearence. This prothorax has the ability to bend and twist which aids in the mantids ability to see close to 360 degrees around. The two long raptorial front legs are adapted to seize and hold prey. The coxa connects the tibia which has sharp spines to firmly hold prey.

The femur has matching groves where the spine on the tibia fold into. This creates a jack knife effect that allows the insect to assume its distinctive praying position. The other four legs of the mantis are designed for locomotion. These legs can regenerate if broken, but only in the molting process. These limbs that regenerate are always smaller than they were originally.

A full grown adult that no longer molts no longer possess the ability to regenerate limbs. The front raptorial limbs do not regenerate if broken. Because of their large bulky bodies mantids are fairly weak flyers. They have four pairs of wings. The first pair are leathery tegmina wings that lay over the inner pair.

The Peters 3 mambrenous inner pair are folded under the first pair and are used for flight and to startle enemies. The large segmented abdomen houses the digestive system and reproductive organs. The male mantis has 8 segments, and the females are born with 8 segments as well. But with each succesive molt in the female the last two segments begin to overlap resulting with 6 segments left. Sixty percent of mantid species possess an ultrasonic ear on the under side of the metathorax, especially those that have wings.

The mantid is an auditory cyclops, which means it only has one ear. The ear is 1mm long with cuticle like knobs at either end and two ear drums buried inside. The ear is specially tuned to very high ultrasonic freqeuncies of sound waves from 25 to 65 kilohertz. Apparently, the ears primary purpose is designed to respond to the ultrasonic echo-location signal used by hunting bats. The mantis primarily uses its ultrasonic ears while in flight.

When a mantis senses a bats ultrasonic echo at close range, it curls its abdomen upwards and thrusts its legs outward creating a drag and resulting in a sudden aerial stall. This flight manuever of the mantis creates an unpredictable flight pattern for the bat, and is very effective at avoiding hungry bats. There are three ways to distinguish between female and male mantodea. The male has 8 segments, while the female has Peters 4 The second is size, the female is always bigger than the male. The third is behavior, the male mantis is more prone to take flight in search of a mate, while the female often remains stationary. Mantids are extremely predacious feeders, only eating live prey, or prey that is moving, and hence appears alive.

Varying on the species, you can see what diet preferences are. Some species only eat soft bodied bugs, insects that can be easily devoured. While some species will eat anything from small birds to reptiles. Mantids are diurnal, which means they eat primarily during the day. An attacking mantid undulates, and sways just before a strike.

Some experts believe this swaying action mimics the movement of the surrounding folliage due to gusts of wind. Others believe this swaying aids in the mantid visually focusing on the prey. Mantids hunt by the sit and wait method or by the slow stalk method. The sit and wait can sometimes take hours, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to come within an arms length. The slow stalk method is pretty self explanitory.

Mantids attack by pinching, impaling prey between its spiked lower tibia and upper femur. The mantids strike takes an amazing 30 to 50 one-thousanth of a second. The strike is so fast it cant be proccessed by the human brain. Once the prey is secured with its legs the mantid chews at the preys neck. If well fed, the mantid will selectively choose to eat certain Peters 5 parts of its prey and discard the rest.

If any part of the prey is dropped while feeding the mantis will not retrieve it. After feeding, they will often use their mouth to clean the food particles from the spines of its tibia, and then wipe their face clean similar to cats. The cannibalistic instincts of mantids are probably what give order mantodea a reputation for being such cold hearted killers. All stages of growth partake in cannibalistic activities, from nymph to adult, whether adult eats nymph or nymph eats nymph. After mating the female will often eat her mate. Between 5-31% of males get devoured during the mating process.

A female mantis already heavy with eggs will excrete a chemical attractant to tempt a willing male into mating. The horny and always willing male will almost always get sucked in. The males sperm cells are stored in the spermatheca of the female. The female can begin to lay her eggs as early as the day after fer …