Everybody knows that the female praying mantis will sometimes eat her partner after he’s mated with her. But new research suggests that some female mantids on the verge of starvation will actually fake fertility in order to lure mates to snack on.
The Washington Post reports on a new study from Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which exposes this bizarre tactic of some mantids in Australia. Researchers forced the males to only pick by biological indicators such as scent, and their study suggested females that were incredibly hungry were giving off the most biological signaling.
From the Washington Post:
It seems that a starving female will throw the last of her energy into producing the chemical signals associated with fertility. But while she’s much more likely to eat the mates she lures in (90 per cent of the hungry females did so) she’s also less likely to actually let the male mate with her beforehand.
Cannibalism is the exception rather than the rule in the praying mantis world. Some studies have suggested that the bright lights of a laboratory environment will actually cause the female to eat the male more frequently. So more study is obviously needed. But one imagines this would be a hard study to replicate in the wild. [Washington Post]
Image: Praying mantis in 2011 via AP