With anextremely striking appearence, mantids almost have human likequalities with the ability to hold an erect stance, and armsthat face forward. A very efficient killer, mantids werecreated for hunting and killing prey. Order Mantodea is in the subclass Pterygota. As with allclassifications there can be debates on where certain orders orspecies belong. Historically there has been some confusion onwhether Mantodea deserves there own order.
Some experts haveplaced Mantodea in the dictyoptera order along with cock roaches(Ramel 1996, Jaques 1981, Phoenix Zoo). Others say mantidsbelong in Orthoptera, which consists of grasshoppers. Expertssay this is due to their large pro notum (Stokes 1983, Borrorand White 1970). The emerging consensus around the position ofMantodea believes Mantodea constitute their own independentorder of insects. Mantids can be characterized by their triangular head, andfiliform antennae.
This head has the ability to turn 180degrees. With their prominate pair of compound eyes located on Peters 2the sides of the head, the mantis can almost see 360 degree’saround. However the sharpest vision is located in the compoundeye’s center, for the mantis to optimaly see objects it mustturn its head so that the eye is facing the object. These eyesare extremely sensitive to light, changing from light green ortan in bright light, to dark brown in the dark.
The prothorax of the mantis is another aid in giving themtheir distintive appearence. This prothorax has the ability tobend and twist which aids in the mantids ability to see closeto 360 degrees around. The two long ?raptorial? front legs are adapted to seizeand hold prey. The coxa connects the tibia which has sharpspines to firmly hold prey. The femur has matching groves wherethe spine on the tibia fold into.
This creates a ?jack knife?effect that allows the insect to assume it’s distinctive prayingposition. The other four legs of the mantis are designed forlocomotion. These legs can regenerate if broken, but only inthe molting process. These limbs that regenerate are alwayssmaller than they were originally.
A full grown adult that nolonger 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 fairlyweak flyers. They have four pairs of wings. The first pair areleathery tegmina wings that lay over the inner pair.
The Peters 3mambrenous inner pair are folded under the first pair and areused for flight and to startle enemies. The large segmented abdomen houses the digestive systemand reproductive organs. The male mantis has 8 segments, andthe females are born with 8 segments as well. But with eachsuccesive molt in the female the last two segments begin tooverlap resulting with 6 segments left. Sixty percent of mantid species possess an ultrasonic earon the under side of the metathorax, especially those that havewings.
The mantid is an ?auditory cyclops?, which means it onlyhas one ear. The ear is 1mm long with cuticle like knobs ateither end and two ear drums buried inside. The ear isspecially tuned to very high ultrasonic freqeuncies of soundwaves from 25 to 65 kilohertz. Apparently, the ears primarypurpose is designed to respond to the ultrasonic echo-locationsignal used by hunting bats.
The mantis primarily uses its ultrasonic ears while inflight. When a mantis senses a bat’s ultrasonic echo at closerange, it curls it’s abdomen upwards and thrusts its legsoutward creating a drag and resulting in a sudden aerial stall. This flight manuever of the mantis creates an unpredictableflight pattern for the bat, and is very effective at avoiding hungry bats. There are three ways to distinguish between female andmale mantodea. The male has 8 segments, while the female has Peters 4The second is size, the female is always bigger than themale. The third is behavior, the male mantis is more prone to take flight in search of a mate, while the female often remainsstationary.
Mantids are extremely predacious feeders, only eating liveprey, or prey that is moving, and hence appears alive. Varyingon the species, you can see what diet preferences are. Somespecies only eat ?soft bodied bugs?, insects that can be easilydevoured. While some species will eat anything from small birdsto reptiles. Mantids are diurnal, which means they eat primarily duringthe day. An attacking mantid ?undulates?, and sways just beforea strike.
Some experts believe this swaying action mimics themovement of the surrounding folliage due to gusts of wind. Others believe this swaying aids in the mantid visually focusingon the prey. Mantids hunt by the ?sit and wait? method or bythe slow stalk method. The ?sit and wait? can sometimes takehours, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to come within an armslength. The slow stalk method is pretty self explanitory. Mantids attack by ?pinching?, impaling prey between its spikedlower tibia and upper femur.
The mantids strike takes anamazing 30 to 50 one-thousanth of a second. The strike is sofast it can’t be proccessed by the human brain. Once the preyis secured with its legs the mantid chews at the preys neck. Ifwell fed, the mantid will selectively choose to eat certain Peters 5parts of its prey and discard the rest.
If any part of the preyis dropped while feeding the mantis will not retrieve it. Afterfeeding, they will often use their mouth to clean the food particles from the spines of it’s tibia, and then wipe theirface clean similar to cats. The cannibalistic instincts of mantids are probably whatgive order mantodea a reputation for being such cold heartedkillers. All stages of growth partake in cannibalisticactivities, from nymph to adult, whether adult eats nymph ornymph eats nymph. After mating the female will often eat hermate. Between 5-31% of males get devoured during the matingprocess.
A female mantis already heavy with eggs will excrete achemical attractant to tempt a willing male into mating. Thehorny and always willing male will almost always get sucked in. The males sperm cells are stored in the spermatheca of thefemale. The female can begin to lay her eggs as early as theday after fertilization. As the eggs pass through herreproductive system, they are fertilized by the stored sperm.
After finding a raised location, like a branch or stem, specialappendages at the base of the abdomen (ventral valve maybe)create a gelatinous egg material into the shape characteristicof the particular species as it exits her ovipositor. The egg laying process takes 3 to 5 hours long. Byinstinct the female twists her abdomen in a spiral motion tocreate chambers within the ootheca. The egg case then hardens Peters 6into a paper mache like substance that is resistant to pests whowould try and eat it.
There are small air pockets between eachcell of the ootheca which aids in insulation against coldwinters. There can be anywhere from 30 to 300 eggs laid in asitting. Often times the female dies after her final birthing. The life-cycle of the North American mantid species runsfrom spring to fall. When spring time temperatures becomefavorable the mantid nymphs emerge from the ootheca.
They droptowards the ground on a thin strand of stringy material producedby a special gland in their body. Mantid nymphs arehemimetabolous. Mantid nymphs appear like small adults, butwithout fully-formed wings. Nymphs go through 6 to 7 moltsbefore they reach adulthood.
Emerging nymphs feed on whateversmall insects they can get their claws on, including theirbrothers and sisters. The primary enemies to mantids are spiders, birds, snakes,mammals(especially bats), and man. The mantis has four primarymethods for defense. The mantids green and brown exo-skeletoncolor help aid in camouflage. The mantids ability to standperfectly still for extremely long periods of time cause it tobe over looked by predators.
When confronted by an enemy themantis asumes the ?startle display?, rearing it’s fore legs upand spread apart, and rattling its wings. The ultrasonic ear isalso a form of defense for the mantis. Insect Pest Management or IPM is a subject of research Peters 7that is really starting to take notice throughout the world. It’s becoming apparent that the over use of chemical pesticidesis ruining our Earths ecology. Finding alternative methods of pest control besides the use of pesticides is imperative if weexpect to keep this planet in good condition. Numerous cases ofIPM have been initiated and have proved to work.
The prayingmantis plays an important role in nature’s insect pest controlplan. The praying mantis is one of the few predators with thatare fast enough to catch mosquitos and flies while their inflight. Moth populations are also controlled by mantids. There are three common species of mantids found in NorthAmerica. The European mantis (Mantis religiosa), the Chinesemantis (Tenodera aridifolia sinesis), and the Carolina mantis(Stagmomantis carolina). The European mantis is usually 2-3 inches in length, andhas a consistently bright green color.
These are distinguishedas the only of the three species that bear a black-ringed spotbeneath the fore coxae. The European mantids are most oftenfound east of The Mississippi River. It is said that theEuropean mantids were first introduced into North America inRochester New York in 1899 on a shipment of nursery plants. The Chinese mantis is the largest of the three native toNorth America reaching lengths up to five inches.
This speciesis mostly light brown with a dull green trim around its wings. The Chinese mantis can be found throughout the United States. Peters 8The Chinese mantis arrived in 1895 on nursery stock sent toPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania. The Carolina mantis is the smallest of the three never reaching a length greater than 2 inches. This mantis has adusky brown or gray color to blend in with the pine forests andand sandhills of Southeastern part of the U. S.
An interestingfeature of the Carolina mantis is that the wings which onlyextend 3/4 of the way down the abdomen. There are many myths and legneds asscociated with mantids. For thousands of years they have captured our imagination, andcuriosity. The word mantis comes from ancient greece and means?diviner? or ?prohpet?. Many cultures have credited the mantidwith a variety of magical qualities.
In the southern portion ofthe U. S. it is believed that if the brown saliva of a mantisever comes in contact with you, you’ll go blind. This mysticalsaliva also has the potential to kill a horse.
In France it is believed that if a lost child is ever inthe woods and can’t find his way home the praying stance of themantid will direct them toward safety. The Turks and Arabsbelieve the mantid always prays toward Mecca. During theEuropean Middle-ages it was thought that the mantis was a greatworshiper of god due to the great amounts of time spent in prayer. In China it is believed that the roasted egg cases ofmantids will cure bed wetting in people. In Africa, if a mantid Peters 9ever lands on someone it will bring that person good luck.
Itis also believed that the mantis possess the power to bring thedead back to life. Type in praying mantis on most any search engines andyou’ll be able to find numerous amounts of info. But 80% ofmost of these praying mantis sites are all related to thepraying mantis style of kung-fu. To find any decsent info onthe praying mantis, you must type in the latin name. Many legends are told about the origins of praying mantiskung-fu. There is no disputing the fact that Wang Lang inventedPlum Blossom Praying Mantis Boxing.
The one legend that seemsto be found at most web-sites describing the history of PrayingMantis Kungfu is the one about Wang Lang’s hiking trip throughthe Lao Shan mountains of China. After a recent devasting lossin a kungfu fight Wang needed some time to himself. Whileresting on a log he noticed two mantids fighting. Theirquickness, patience, and flexibility intrigued Wang. Usingthose same ideas, and techniques used by the mantids hedeveloped praying mantis kungfu. Peters 10WORKS CITED1).
Profotilov, Hya. History of Praying Mantis Kungfu,http://php. indiana. edu/~iprofati/history.
html. 2). Watkins, Gary. Praying Mantids,www. uky. edu/Agriculture/Entomology/entfacts/trees/ef418.
htm3). The Care of Mantids, www. insect-world. com/main/mantids. html4). Bragg, Phil.
Praying mantis Care Notes, www. ex. ac. uk/bugclub/caresheet/mantids. html5).
Johnson, Sylvia. Mantises, Minneapolis: Lerner PublicationsCompany, 1984. 6). Hess, Lilo. The praying Mantis: Insect Cannibal, New York:Charles Scribner and Sons, 1971.Animal Science