Female Praying Mantis Will Fake Fertility To Eat Partner, Research Claims

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While it’s common knowledge that a female praying mantis will eat her partner’s head after he’s mated with her, new research suggests that some female mantis will actually fake fertility in order to satiate their hunger.

The study was conducted by Katherine Barry of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Barry collected a number of mantis in areas around Sydney, then separated the males and females. She then split the females again into four groups and fed them different diets, each ranging in quality from “very poor” to “good.” The males were then released to mate, though they could only find a viable mate via the scent females released.

Since the least fed females were lean and therefore less fertile, researchers expected that the male mantis would be attracted to the better fed insects. Instead, Barry and her group found that the hungry mantis attracted more mates than the well fed one. Barry discovered that the female mantis produced and released pheromones to lure their mates, then consumed the male to improve their body condition by 33 percent. Their fecundity also increased about 40 percent.

"The Femme Fatale hypothesis suggests that female mantids may be selected to exploit conspecific males as prey if they benefit nutritionally from cannibalism," the study noted.

The study suggests that when the insect is starving, they will send deceptive signals that they have eggs and are prepared to mate. Though the study was conducted on mantis, Barry noted that the research is applicable to all species.

Previous research on similar topics suggests that about 90 percent of female mantis used cannibalism when they were at their worst body condition. Only 50 percent of males were successful in mating with female mantis following such encounters.

The study was publishing in the Royal Society’s Journal Proceedings B.

Source: Tech Times / Photo Credit: Flickr


 
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