Mantises are the most curious creatures. You might’ve sometimes misunderstood them from grasshoppers. But then…..what exactly are these creatures? Are they…. carnivorous?
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh
Now, why are they called ‘Praying Mantis’?? The thing is ,their forelimbs are actually folded and therefore it looks like they are praying(silly? Not really). Let’s get familiarised with them,shall we?
The order(a division while creating ecological divisions) of these Mantises are Mantises. The largest family of these organisms are the Mantidae,also known as Mantidae. Their habitat is usually in tropical zones. If we look into the morphology,the Mantises have a triangular head with large eyes(may be to search for their prey). Some of them have wings while some may not,but they have their forelegs to catch their prey with an iron like grip. Their phylum is actually Arthropoda. They sometimes appear in brown or green colours. The factor solely depends upon their species and may be the climatic conditions. How many species do they hold? Well,they have around 2400 species altogether.
They have a significant place in Egyptian and Greek theologies. What were they? Well,in Egyptian theology for instance,they were considered to be the ones who used to guide on editing his/her eternal or afterlife journey. The name Mantis’ however,came from the Greek word which means ‘seer prophet.’
Okay,so according the historical evidences they hold a significant place.In fact,these animals(like they come under the kingdom of animals,where in they are again classified as insects and so on)
Photo by Brandon Phan
Do not go on their size.These organisms are ambush predators,meaning that they are carnivorous animals,but in a stealthy way. What I mean to say is that ,suppose if these animals find their prey,they wait for it to be close enough for them and then…..attack.
What are Fossils? When an organism dies,it is usually decomposed. But what if it wasn’t? And by that ,I am talking about the Carboniferous period. During these period bacterias and fungi had not fully developed the ability to decompose. So what happened? They got deposited under sediments. From this,they either got fermented through the anaerobic process,producing fossil fuels like coal and petrol,or got imprinted on the sediments,producing Fossils. The Fossils of Mantises the earliest of their existence is estimated to be about 135 million years ago, probably from Siberia.
Typically,a Mantis can live upto 3 to 4 months. But if it gets its food properly and all’s well,then it can live upto an yearly at most. Female Mantises are usually larger and maybe stinger than male Mantises because it’s the females who lay eggs(duh). The eggs are protected with the capsules and hatch in the time of spring .The female Mantises usually lay their eggs during the season of autumn and after paying their eggs,these Mantises die. But….what about the male Mantises? Do they not die at all?
(Typical teacher) Ahem,class! Nobody will dare to ask unnecessary questions! And….maintain Silence!
(Nah,not really. Firstly, I am not a teacher, and if I were to be a teacher, well that would’ve been purely disastrous.
Secondly, reproduction is a natural process,no matter how much you giggle about it, awareness of such matters is the most important and shall not be ignored. So ya, grinning about the word ‘sexual intercourse’ will do nothing but make you less concentrated) *no offence*
Reproduction in Mantises is quite peculiar yet fascinating. They reproduce sexually,yes but they follow something called ‘sexual cannibalism’. What is sexual cannibalism? Let’s break the word. Okay,sexual means a process through which they reproduce and cannibalism means that they eat their own species,may be raw or cooked(I don’t really know their menu). So,what does this imply?
Sexual cannibalism means that after the mating process,the female Mantises eat up the male Mantises. No worries, Let’s explain it somewhat like this:
Suppose a female Mantises wishes to mate. What exactly will she do? What she does is,she secretes an alluring scene to attract any male Mantis in the vicinity. When the male Mantis comes near the female Mantises,they start their mating process, sexually. But what does the female Mantises do meanwhile? She starts to eat the male Mantis. Slowly,the upper (remaining) part of the map mantis falls away,leaving their abdomen. The abdomen stays,still providing the female eggs with the sperm which will fertilize the eggs. How does the abdomen stay even after the male Mantis has died. Well,the male Mantis has some nerves in their body which continues the mating process even after the organism itself has died.
Now,you might find this weird,but it’s just how the female Mantis reproduction process works. The male Mantis are actually prepared for their death after their mating process. The process is like that,because the female organism also does after they lay their eggs. And the eggs need nutrition to grow well and the male Mantis serves as a nutrition provider to the eggs. Not only mantis but many organisms like jumping spiders,banana slugs etc. All reproduce by sexual cannibalism. They just can’t live that ‘happily lived after’ life due to their short life. Nature has its own methods.
Mantises might seem weak,but they’re really not. Between a hornet and a mantis,guess what who wins? And hornets are not any insect. So ya,this was the truth of the life of Mantises.
Fact- Mantises,when hungry,can sometimes eat themselves. Although that’s pretty rare,but definitely not non-existent. Also,they are experts in camouflaging themselves between the trees.
Photo by Ravi Kant