Monday, Aug. 16, 2010

Praying Mantises

In spite of her pious demeanor, the female praying mantis has earned the reputation of a sinfully cannibalistic femme fatale. She lures males with her pheromones, and when one approaches, the prospective mate engages in a courtship dance. If the daring he-mantis is deemed worthy, he is allowed to hitch a ride on the much larger female's back and commence fertilization. The she-mantis has been known to voraciously chew off her partner's head during or after this stage. Though a decapitated he-Mantis may not seem very useful, some theories suggest otherwise. Laboratory observations claim that the male appears to thrust more vigorously without his noggin attached; other studies cite sexual cannibalism as a way to increase the success and duration of copulation — which in some species can be a prolonged affair, lasting several hours. In postcoital chomping cases, the male is simply a victim of his proximity to the peckish damsel. Perhaps her next date will take her out to dinner first.