Do Pet Praying Mantis Fight each Other
What is the praying Mantis?
The Praying Mantis is named for its well-known and robust front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that looks like the position of prayer.
Praying mantids have a somewhat triangular head and comparatively long necks. They can turn their heads up to 180 degrees (an entire half-circle). Their adapting and well-camouflaged colors help them blend with plants. Some also have fantastic body shapes that make them look like branches or leaves. They have multiple rows of sharp spines in their front legs to help them hold on to their prey, which they usually begin to eat by starting from the head.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Mantodea
- Family: Mantidae
- Genus: Mantis
- Species: Mantis religiosa
General Characteristics of Praying Mantis:
- Praying Mantis Niche: Carnivorous
- Average clutch Size: 100-110 eggs
- Weight : 0.15 – 0.18 ounces (4.2 – 5 grams)
- Length: 1.96 in – 2.94 in (51 mm – 71 mm)
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Lifespan: One year in the wild, double in captivity
- Preferred Habitat: Varied/Multiple; prefer tropical areas with lots of vegetation
- Social Structure: Solitary
- Predators: Frogs, monkeys, bats, spiders, larger birds, and snakes
- Prey Species: Other insects such as moths, flies, beetles, crickets, and bees
Praying Mantis Species
There are about 23,000 types of Praying Mantis on earth, a few hundred of which are being kept as pets. Each species differs in size, shape, behavior, life history characteristics, and particular feeding requirements.
People often call every Mantis a praying mantis, but many species of Mantis or mantises are part of a small mantid group. Praying mantids are mainly carnivores, mainly eating insects and other small animals. Many farmers and gardeners welcome these praying Mantis because they eat those known as pets and damage crops. In addition to insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts, mantids eat frogs, lizards, spiders, and even small birds.
Common Praying Mantis Species are:
- Ghost mantis – Phyllocrania paradoxa
- African Mantis – Sphodromantis lineola
- Giant Asian Mantis – Hierodula membranacea
- Indian Flower Mantis – Creobroter pictipennis
- Gambian Spotted-Eye Mantis – Pseudoharpax virescens
- Orchid Mantis – Hymenopus coronatus
- Thistle Mantis – Blepharopsis mendica
- Dead Leaf Mantis – Deroplatys desiccata
- Spiny Flower Mantis – Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii
- Devils Flower Mantis – Idolomantis diabolica
- European Mantis – Mantis religiosa
- Unicorn Mantis – Pseudovates arizonae
- Budwing Mantis – Parasphendale affinis
- Chinese Mantis – Tenodera sinensis
- Carolina mantis – Stagmomantis carolina
- Metallyticus splendidus – Sphodromantis baccettii
- Egyptian Pygmy Mantis – Miomantis paykullii
- Wandering Violin Mantis – Gongylus gongylodes
Please continue reading to learn more about their appearance, growth behavior, and how to raise them their captivity (Housing).
Praying Mantis History:
The Mantis religiosa, commonly known as Praying Mantis or European Mantis, is a praying mantid species belonging to Family Mantidae. As its name suggests, Praying Mantis are local to Europe, but it is also native to many parts of Africa and Asia.
The Mantis is widespread in parts of the United States and Canada, although it is not native here and was introduced a century ago. It was accidentally introduced to Europe from New York in the 1890s and spread to the far west of Canada’s Vancouver area.
There are 12 recognized subtypes in this range. These insects are named for their position, which resembles someone’s prayer, as we discussed above.
More than fifteen species belong to the genus Mantis, and the European Mantis is most commonly known as the Praying Mantis.
Praying Mantis Habitat:
These insects are found in multiple habitats, ranging from urban gardens to valleys. They prefer warm, tropical habitats that have various shrubs and bushes along with long grass. These hot and warm areas are more likely to be home to plenty of prey for the Praying Mantis to feed on. The adults can survive very high temperatures, so it is not uncommon to find them in semi-arid desert regions.
All the species of these fascinating Praying Mantis insects are potent predators. Their triangular heads are drawn on long “necks”/elongated thorax. Mantids can rotate to scan their sides with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them, making them very active predators.
Usually, Manti’s color is green or brown, and they hide on the plants they live in. They use their legs to snatch their prey quickly that they are challenged to see with the naked eye. Their legs are equipped with spikes to catch and pin the prey.
Insects, cricket, flies, locusts, and other insects usually the victim of Mantis. However, these insects will eat others of their kind too.
The most famous example of this is an adult female’s threatening behavior, who sometimes eats her partner after mating. Yet this behavior seems not to deter Male Mantis from reproduction.
Like all other insects, the Praying Mantis has a segmented body, consisting of three segments: the thorax, head, and abdomen. In adults, the central area is covered by wings. They have six legs, four legs at the abdomen area, and another two larger forelegs at the thoracic region that appear to be more like arms. They have large compound eyes. A praying mantis can rotate its head and pivot it, giving it an excellent range of vision. They also have antennae that are used for smell detection.
The European Mantis is a dangerous predator and feeds on many insects, like most mantid species. Some of its larger relatives eat small birds, reptiles, and even some small rodents. These insects use their colors to camouflage or blend in with their surrounding environment, where they wait until their prey is in striking distance, and then they ambush it. These Mantis use their lightning-fast front legs (raptorial legs) to catch their victim quickly. It takes the praying Mantis only 60 – 70 milliseconds to grasp its prey via striking with its forelegs. The Praying Mantis has powerful mandibles that allow it to devour/crush its prey.
Praying Mantis Mating Behavior:
Because Mantis does not have a long lifespan, they intercourse/mate only once in their whole life, usually in the fall, or autumn, months. After males and females mate, the females will produce an ootheca (An egg contains ingredients that contain proteins and tanning agents that protect the eggs). This clutch or ootheca will have 100 to 200 eggs in it. The eggs are laid in the winter months, and the larvae hatch in the spring. The larvae will then undergo several molting stages, and the first morphological stage occurs shortly after hatching. Unfortunately, very few Praying Mantis survive in the early stages due to lack of food and low temperatures.
Praying Mantis Predators
The predators of Praying Mantis include bats, frogs, monkeys, birds, spiders, and snakes. The Praying Mantis will even take their own kind, especially during the larva phase and during the mating. Praying Mantis will stand on its hind legs when threatened by a predator, with its forelegs raised above its head to make it appear more substantial and enormous. These Mantis will also beat their wings to show dominance.
And sometimes these insects behave brutally. Praying Mantis courtship is a dangerous affair for males because females bite off the Male’s heads and eat their different body parts, especially those they mate with. However, the frequency of such unjust behavior maybe just a tad overstated.
Why Do praying Mantis kill each other?
Death by cannibalism might seem like a high price to pay for a fleeting moment of passion, but male praying mantises are doing it for the kids, new research suggests.
Scientists have discovered that female praying Mantis who eat their mates after sex produce a more significant number of eggs than those who do not, with the bodies of the ill-fated males used to aid their production.
Of the species of praying mantises known to exhibit sexual cannibalism, it is estimated up to 28% of males are eaten by their partner. After mating, the female stores the Male’s sperm and later uses it to fertilize the eggs that she produces.
Can You Keep a Praying Mantis as a Pet?
One of the most beautiful and extraordinary creatures in insects is the Praying Mantis, which makes a great pet. Catching and holding Praying Mantis is fun and easy. Just grab a jar big enough to accommodate a mantis and put the Mantis inside that. Make sure your jar has holes in the lid for oxygenation. Make your new pet comfortable by feeding him the right amount of food and giving him a suitable enclosure.
Is it Illegal to Keep Praying Mantis as a Pet?
It depends upon the species of Praying Mantis, i.e., In some states of the U.S, it is illegal to keep any exotic species, including exotic species such as tropical Praying Mantis. But some states allow a legal permit after training and completing other requirements. While on the other hand, endemic species of Praying Mantis are legal to own as a pet.
Is it Illegal to Kill a Mantis?
No, it is not, but we must care for these speechless creatures as human beings.
Can Young Children Take Care of a Praying Mantis?
Yes, children can take care of their Praying Mantis but only under the supervision of adults. Children around 12-13 years old can take care of a Praying Mantis by themselves. Younger children must learn Praying Mantis’s basic needs, such as feeding, adjusting temperature and humidity, health checks, and cleaning.
My Mantis is Not Eating, What is Wrong with Him?
A Praying Mantis will stop eating or go off feed a few days before molting (shedding skin). So, this is normal you do not need to worry about that. After molting, your Praying Mantis will start to eat again.
When a praying mantis does not eat even though it does not need to molt, try offering different prey species. Do not worry too much, and a mantis can live for 15-18 days without any food. If anything does not work, contact your exotic veterinarian.
How can I judge if my Mantis will molt soon?
First of all, your Mantis will stop feeding, which is the primary sign of molting. Sometimes a white thin, film-like layer can be seen all over the body of the Praying Mantis. This is the skin becoming looser. When the Mantis changes from one morphological form to another, it will molt, i.e., larva to nymph or nymph to adult.
Can a Praying Mantis Bite or Harm Humans?
Although it rarely happens, chances are there for praying Mantis to grab your finger/hand and bite you. This occurs when your Praying Mantis thinks your finger is a prey item or he is starving for almost two weeks. And, of course, it only occurs when a praying mantis is big enough to get hold of your finger.
They usually do not carry any zoonotic diseases that can transfer to humans. Also, they are not venomous, so they can not harm you in any condition.
Is it Safe to Touch a Praying Mantis?
Praying Mantis rarely bites you. They prefer other insects, and their excellent complex eyes make it unlikely they’ll mistake your finger for prey. But bites can still happen, but you do not have to worry because these bites are not lethal for you. They are pretty safe. If unluckily any Praying Mantis bites you, wash your hands thoroughly. They’re not dangerous, so you’ll be unharmed.
Are Praying Mantis Dangerous to Dogs?
Pet parents must have seen their dogs in a fighting mode against some tiny bugs at some point in time (Even dogs feel inquisitive about these strangely moving creatures). A mantis confronts the dog fearlessly (just how it faces any other predator) and even bites it when angry. But you do not have to worry because Praying Mantis bites are not poisonous. Also, these Mantis do not have any poison, so even if your cat or dog accidentally eats your Mantis, there will be no consequences.
How Do Praying Mantises Communicate with each other?
Around the world, bugs or insects will communicate their intentions to a mate in three key gestures: Chemical, Visual, and Mechanical. Praying Mantis also use these three ways to communicate with each other
Praying Mantis uses visual signals to greet when they see each other or to do fighting to gain dominance.
Mechanical gestures include shouting at your partners. Mantis makes noises by rubbing or scratching their bellies and underwings areas, and they do this to express threats. So, it means that mechanical signals or gestures do not help in mating.
Chemical signals involve the discharging of certain chemicals to attract their partner. When the female agrees to mate, the female will release certain chemoreceptors and pheromones. By following these pheromones, the Male will find the female. According to scientists, female Mantis attracts males from as far a distance as, 300′, or 100-120 meters away. In species where females live a hectic and sedentary lifestyle and are flightless, pheromones will be discharged from far off.
Is Praying Mantis Aggressive?
These insects are the most non-aggressive carnivores in nature. They have no known poisonous species and have no interest in humans. Still, they show aggressive behavior when being attacked or provoking a predator. If you want to pick them, do it from behind so that they do not attack you.
How do You Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Praying Mantis?
You can do this in two ways:
- By looking at the number of segments/parts on the abdomen, also known as the abdomen segment count method
- By looking for other external body differences like the antennae’s length.
Abdomen segment count method:
The segment count method can apply to all praying mantis species older than the fourth instar or L4 (Morphological state). In some Manis species, it is much harder to see as compared to others. For small Mantis species, you may need a magnifying glass to examine.
The basic principle is simple: female praying mantises have six abdominal segments while males have eight. The female’s final segment is much larger than the last male segment, while the Male has several small components towards the abdomen’s end.
Tip: If you have to count the segments, you should look at the underside of the Mantis
Sexual dimorphism means that females and males look different from each other. For example, with horses, sexual dimorphism is low. For peacocks, sexual dimorphism is high or more common. Among the Mentis species, the degree of sexual dimorphism between males and females varies for each species. We can determine Male and female Praying Mantis by observing external differences between males and females. You can differentiate between male and female Mantis based on these given points.
The antennae of male Praying Mantis are usually longer and thicker than those of females.
In some species, there is a significant difference in body size between males and females. For example, males of orchid mantis and budwing Mantis are huge as compared to females. Besides these 2 species all other Male Mantis are smaller in size as compared to female Mantis. Generally, female Mantids are much larger than males.
Males of Praying Mantis are much more slender and thin as compared to their female counterparts.
The length of the wings
This wing length difference can only be seen in adult Praying Mantis. The wings of a male praying mantis are generally longer and more extensive than those of the females. The females’ wings reach the end of their body or even do not go that far, while the male wings are never shorter than the body.
Fun Facts about the Praying Mantis
Following are some fun fact about Praying Mantis
Female Mantis Eats Her Mate
The sexual behavior of all the Praying Mantis is well recognized, as it has received a lot of interest from insect enthusiasts and scientists over the last few decades. In the European and Asian Mantis, the males start the contact with the females. When an adult male finds a suitable mate, i.e., a sexually adult female, he tries to approach her with care and caution. The female Mantis is much larger than the Male, and there is a chance that if she finds him first, she will fight, assault and kill him.
The Male Mantis will carefully approach the female Mantis from behind, stopping him if she suddenly moves. Once the Male gets close to the female, he will jump on her back and grab her by his forelegs. Once the Male is in a safe position, the intercourse begins.
After intercourse, which can take four to five hours, the Male releases the female and quickly falls to the ground so that he is too far away from the female to feel safe. Sometimes, however, the Male is attacked by a female and eaten during, before, or on rare occasions after intercourse/mating. This is called sexual cannibalism.
There are Some Benefits of Sexual Cannibalism to Females After Eating Their Mate:
1. It provides the adequate nutrients to females so that she doesn’t have to hunt after mating
2. This meal gives her more nutrients, which helps produce many eggs faster and increases her offspring’s chances to survive better.
While this doesn’t seem very beneficial for males, males are only likely to mate once in their lifetime. By also giving nutrients to the female Mantis by becoming her meal, the male increases his genetic material’s chances of being passed on.
Sexual cannibalism isn’t limited to the Praying Mantis! Other animals are known to eat their mates, including the jumping spider, the black widow spider, and several scorpion species.
The Praying Mantis Has Only One Ear
Like all insects belonging to the order Mantidoa, the Praying Mantis has only one ear! What’s even more interesting is that this single ear is located on its abdomen/belly’s underside, just forward of its hind legs. Its ear’s location means that the praying Mantis cannot differentiate or detect the coming sound’s direction.
However, the Praying Mantis ears are adapted to detect ultrasound waves produced by several bat species. This helps them to escape from any bats that try to hunt them.
The Praying Mantis is a charming, attractive, and fascinating insect to keep as a Pet. It is Native to Africa, Europe, and Asia, this insect is now found across the U.S. and is even the state insect of Connecticut!
Known for eliminating pests on farms and its famous prayer-like stance, this insect has some unique biological adaptations that help it survive in various habitats. Praying Mantis may be an excellent pet for children and adults if handle with care and love.