Sexual cannibalism in Praying Mantis
Biology 342 Fall 2012
Anand Panchal, Kimmy Stanton, Emmeline Hill
Ontogeny of behavior is the origin and development of the behavior over an individual’s lifetime. First, before we think about how this behavior has developed, the life cycle of the praying mantis must first be drawn out.
The nymphs remain in the vicinity of the ootheca for a short amount of time before dispersing. The nymphs continue to mature and molt until they reach their adult size at the end of summer. During this time period, the praying mantises live completely solitary lives, only coming back into contact with other individuals during the mating season (late summer to fall). Praying mantises only live for 6 months to one year, depending on the species, and thus only see one mating period.
Praying Mantis Nymphs
Innate vs. Learned:
Role of Courtship: Although previous research has found that starvation is a more important predictor of cannibalism than length of male display, researchers have found that the male display has an effect in decreasing female aggression and thus reducing the chances of cannibalism (Liske and Davis, 1987).
Season: Many researchers have hypothesized that if sexual cannibalism is a weighed choice between the value of the male as a mate and as food then the reduced availability of males should decrease the probability of sexual cannibalism. Although it has been found that as the mating season progresses, the female:male ratio increases as the population of available males decreases (Maxwell, 1998: “Seasonal”), no conclusive evidence has been found that season (and thus the availability of a mate) has an effect on the incidence of sexual cannibalism.