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Tips to prevent male mantises from being eaten by their mates

Male springbok mantis easily injure female mantis during flirtation to avoid becoming a meal for her partner after mating.

About 60% of the springbok mantis mating ends when the male is eaten by his partner. Male mantises bet for their lives every time they meet a woman, according to Nathan Burke, an entomologist at the University of Auckland who is an expert on mantis behavior. All male mantises are extremely cautious when approaching potential sexual partners. While the majority of other mantises seek to sneak up from behind or distract the female’s attention with her delicious prey, the springbok mantis employs a completely different survival strategy, according to a study released today January 20 in the journal Biology Letters.

Under the risk of being eaten, the male springbok mantis tries to overpower the female by violently holding its partner to the ground, said Burke, co-author of the study with his colleague Gregory Holwell. This wrestling behavior is both a pairing strategy and a survival ploy. According to the results of experiments with 52 pairs of mantises, the key to winning is to attack first. If the male mantis approaches faster and grabs the female with a serrated front paw, the chances of escaping safely can be as high as 78%. Additionally, if the male mantis unleashes a powerful but non-fatal attack on the female’s abdomen, she can definitely escape.

“I was very surprised to find male mantises injuring females while trying to conquer potential mates to mate,” said Burke. “I have never observed similar behavior in other species of mantis.”

However, if the female mantis blows first, the male is still killed and eaten. In general, the male is the winner in more than half of the bouts which lasted an average of 13 seconds. But winning doesn’t automatically help them win the mating. Pairing only occurred in two-thirds of the cases observed by the researchers.

The springbok mantis, known scientifically as Miomantis caffra, is native to southern Africa, but has spread to New Zealand, southern Europe and the US state of California, possibly through through the pet trade. The source of nutrients is obtained when the female mantis eats her pursuer and helps raise her young. Maternal cannibalism is also common in spiders like black widow spiders and scorpions. Young men usually try to avoid being eaten at all costs, including false death. But the female springbok mantis has another advantage: the ability to reproduce without having a male. They can create copies of themselves if they do not mate.

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