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Praying Mantis Love is Waaay Weirder Than You Think | Deep Look

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Channel: Deep Look
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science  
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These pocket-sized predators are formidable hunters. But when it comes to hooking up, male mantises have good reason to fear commitment.

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DEEP LOOK is a ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Get a new perspective on our place in the universe. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.


Mike Maxwell recently finished a ninth season studying the love life of the praying mantises that live around Bishop, a town in California’s Eastern Sierra.

Over that time, he’s seen some unsettlingly strange behaviors.

It’s pretty common knowledge that female mantises sometimes eat males during or after mating — a habit that biologists call “sexual cannibalism.”

But among the bordered mantises that Maxwell researches, it gets weirder than that.

As it turns out, when a male mantis loses his head, it doesn’t mean he loses the urge to procreate.

You read that right. Not only can some male bordered mantises continue mating even while being attacked by their female counterparts, some males are able to mount a female and initiate mating even after getting their heads completely bitten off.

“It’s a really weird, strange behavior,” said Maxwell, “So what’s going on? Why do they do it?”

-- What do praying mantises eat?

Praying mantises are mostly ambush predators that typically eat small animals like grasshoppers, crickets, bees, crickets and butterflies . They use camouflage to hide themselves and wait for their prey to come within striking distance. Then they use their raptorial forelimbs to grab their prey. Spikes on their forelimbs help them hold their prey while they eat.

-- Why do praying mantises eat each other?

Female praying mantises sometimes eat males that approach them to mate. They are only able to do this because mantises are predators and the female mantises are bigger and stronger than the males.

-- Do praying mantises bite?

Most mantises will not bite people but they will pinch people with their forelimbs to defend themselves. It feels a lot like getting bit, trust me.

---+ Read the entire article on KQED Science:

---+ For more information:

Dr. Michael Maxwell, National University

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