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Devil’s Flower Mantis – Diet, Description, Anatomy, Predatory Behavior

Idolomantis refers to a genus that includes praying mantises of the family Empusidae. It is represented by one species, Idolomantis Diabolica. Also known as the giant devil’s flower mantis, the devil’s flower mantis is likely to be the largest praying mantis and the one that mimics flowers.

Devil’s Flower Mantis Fact Sheet

Description

The large mantis, the Devil’s flowers mantis, is part of the Empusidae. Males can grow up to 10 cm (3.9 in) while females can reach 13 cm (5.8 in) in height.

Anatomy

Devil’s flower mantis shares the same basic anatomical structure as most species of the Order Mantodea. However the morphology and floral mimicry of each species vary depending on its native habitat.

Head

The Devil’s head contains three crucial components: the compound eyes, the antennae, as well as the mandibles.

A compound eye, made of thousands and individual photoreceptors cells, allows for excellent eyesight. The insect’s ability to perceive 180 degree is possible because of the arrangement and configuration of its photoreceptors.

I. diabolica is able to recognize prey and predators, without having to spoil its camouflage. The antennae are a pair of thin, long bristles that serve as the insect’s sensor.

The antennae project outwardly and are capable of detecting many environmental factors such as chemicals, motion, and odors. The male antennae are feather-like, and have a more complex structure than the females. This allows them detect the pheromones released from the females to track down the females. These pheromones let males know that the females will soon reproduce. The mandibles may be used to “tear and puncture or grind” food.

Thorax

The insect’s largest organ is the thorax. It is composed, like all insects, of three segments: The prothorax; the mesothorax; and the metathorax. Each section contains one pair each of legs. The wings, however, are located only on the mesothoracic-metathoracic segments.

Abdomen

The abdomen is home to various organ systems, including reproductive organs and respiratory organs.

Where Do Devil’s Flower Mantis Live?

It is found in Ethiopia (Kenya), Malawi, Somalia and Tanzania. Its threat display is spectacularly colored with black, red, blue, purple and blue.

Defensive Behavior of a Devil

Devil’s flower mantis, when faced with predators, initiates a deimatic show in an attempt “to scare off and temporarily distract a predator”. Its front legs are raised, especially the femora. This exposes the conspicuous patterns at the bottom of its thorax, and abdomen. The wings are also adorned with a variety of vibrant colors. An additional tactic used by devil’s flower mantis to confuse predators was discovered through observation in its captive environment. It would shift its wings from left to right.

Predatory Behavior

Devil’s flowers mantis remains motionless when prey is present. Its purpose is to seduce an insect into its striking zones. Idolomantis debolicica uses the tibiae and legs of its legs in this zone to grasp and hold on to the prey. The mandibles become formidable weapons to decapitate and consume the prey. I. diabolica eats exclusively airborne insects. This includes moths, butterflies, moths, and beetles.

Breeding

Mature females exhibit dimorphic features to attract males before they reproduce. To attract a male, females may lower the tip of their abdomens and raise them slightly. However, sexual cannibalism still occurs in pairs of I. diabolica who are held captive.

Their precautious nature can lead to aggressive behavior in intrusive environments. One example is when a female becomes prey during the process of copulating. This often ends in the male devouring his head.

Nymphs

  • A female can deposit up to 50 eggs into an ootheca.
  • This varies depending on the temperature and humidity. It is common for fifty days to pass between egg-laying, hatching and harvesting.
  • The nymphs consume small insects such houseflies or fruit flies once they have hatched. Males are born after seven instars of ecdysis.
  • Females become mature after eight. I. diabolica can live for approximately 12 months depending on where it lives.

Are Praying Mantis Endangered? – Mantis Conservation Status

why are praying mantis endangered
Getty Images/Paul Starosta

Praying mantises are not endangered they never were. Some people have long assumed that mantises are not only endangered—they’re also protected by federal or local laws and that it’s illegal to kill one in the wild. However, belief such as this doesn’t seem to stand to any logical explanation for the mantises are not even close to endangerment. Let’s see why!

Are Praying Mantis Endangered?

why are praying mantis endangered
Getty Images/Paul Starosta

Worldwide, there are more than 2,000 species of mantis but none of them is threatened or likely to die in near future. North America is home to around 20 praying mantis species. Most North American species including mantis are not endangered.


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There are few places (like Belgium) where mantises are protected legally along with butterflies and other bugs but the overall population appears to be stable. None of the North American mantis is thought to be endangered. There are no legal consequences for killing a mantis in the United States either. However cruel it might seem to be, killing a mantis isn’t against the law.

READ: [ Praying Mantis Predators ]

All the above rumors might have possibly originated from Ancient Egyptians and Africans or early civilizations because they consider mantises as a species possessing supernatural powers. Even so, people worship mantises in some parts of the world. Mantises aren’t poisonous nor do they threaten human fields. In fact they are considered as beneficial insects because they eat harmful bugs. Therefore, the conservation status of a praying mantis is currently out of the question.

A myth circulated in urban areas since 1950s claiming that praying mantises were endangered and that it was illegal to kill them here in the United States. It would be a shame for such a harmless and useful creature to be killed. However, there is no reason to believe that they are protected or endangered. North America contains more than 20 species. None are endangered.

Is Killing a Praying Mantis in Ohio against Ohio Law? Is it okay to use a Walking Stick instead?

My knowledge is that it is legal to kill praying mentises and walking stick. They are not listed as endangered species. You may have to make walking sticks or mantises illegal under local or state law. Although it may not be illegal, it is very dangerous to kill praying mentises. They are a beneficial insect. They are beneficial insects that can be eaten by harmful insects and are commonly used by greenhouse owners as well as gardeners.

There are no federal or state laws that prohibit the killing of praying mantises. They are useful insects that can be left alone because they eat lots of bugs we consider pests. But they aren’t an endangered species. (If they were endangered and killed, there would be a far greater fine than $50. Because they’re beneficial insects and because of their unusual posture (they’re praying for our sake!) They were considered to be a criminal offense by many people.

Praying Mantis Life Cycle – Facts, Diagram, Stages, Video

praying mantis life cycle

The life cycle of just about every insect begins with the egg stage and ends in adulthood. There are four life stages in an insect’s life cycle. If it completes all four stages of a life cycle the individual species is said to complete a metamorphosis stage. However, not every species undergoes a complete metamorphosis. There are some that has only three life stages. Praying mantis is one of them. Furthermore, the mantis doesn’t only undergo an incomplete metamorphosis—the young and adult mantises look almost entirely the same.

Praying Mantis Life Cycle Facts

The Egg Stage

  • The life cycle of a mantis starts with an egg. The female produces 100 to as many as 400 eggs only few days before winter. She will deposit all eggs in a frothy liquid case one that protects the eggs not only from predators but also from extreme weather.
  • The eggs are laid on a stem and the entire egg structure is called ootheca. The eggs overwinter while the female dies immediately after that.

READ: [ How Long Do Orchid Mantis Live? ]

praying mantis life cycle

The Nymph Stage

  • As the winter is over and the spring arrives, the young mantis will crawl from inside the tiny valve-like structures to see the outside world perhaps for the first time. The young mantis will be known as nymphs.
  • These nymphs are extremely hungry that sometimes they feast on one another. The baby mantis will soon find their way out to look for small insects such as fruit flies.
  • The nymph stage of a praying mantis is highly susceptible to potential predators. That is why most nymphs just couldn’t reach adulthood. They will shed their exoskeletons five to six times before attaining adulthood. However young the mantis may be, it will look exactly like an adult mantis except for the fact that nymphs do not have a strong defense.

The Adult Stage

  • praying mantis life cycleThe adulthood is the last stage for a mantis. On reaching adulthood mantises do not only make up their living pretty dominantly they become the predators of most other species. Adult mantis likely spends much of its summer time hunting and looking for arthropods.
  • Now they are strong enough to take down prey as large as a bird. Hummingbirds and European robins are the most favorite mantis’ prey. Unlike nymphs, adult mantises do not have to live a miserable life anymore.
  • The adult mantis molts numerous times before attaining its full size. They starve hours before they molt and mantises become highly vulnerable to predators at the time of molting because the molting continues for few hours. But when the molting completes successfully the mantis will resume its hunting activities and turn out to be stronger and more active than before.

Praying Mantis Life Cycle – Video

How Many Babies does a Praying Mantis have?

how many babies does a praying mantis have

Praying mantis lays a minimum of 100 eggs. All these eggs are hatched at once so the parents must have greater responsibility to feed young mantises immediately right? That isn’t quite true because the female mantis dies after laying eggs. The female mantis is known to produce 100 to 200 eggs sometimes even more than that. Some of the bigger species such as Chinese mantis female can lay up to 300 eggs over a period of few weeks.

The mantis’ eggs overwinter and they are mostly hatched in April or May. All these eggs remain pretty safe inside the ootheca (a hard-shelled protective case). As the spring arrived, young mantises will begin to emerge from the eggs, all at once. One cannot observe newborn mantises unless juveniles come out of the ootheca. The reason why hatching occurs in April is because the food is abundant in spring. Young praying mantis come out of ootheca one after the other and as they manage to crawl out of the shell juveniles jump to the ground. After jumping they will look for food into the green vegetation. That’s how all baby mantises survive without even their parents nurturing them.

How Many Babies does a Praying Mantis have? – Video

Do Praying Mantis Eat Ants?

do praying mantis eat ants

The praying mantis’ primary diet is probably not as varied as its habitat. They mainly feed on arthropods, small birds, bugs, honey bees, and flies. However, mantis eating ants isn’t really out of the question. Ants do possess pretty reasonable defense against predators but they do not stand chance against a predator such as mantis.

Do Praying Mantis Eat Ants?

Adult mantises reaching the size of 4 to 5 inches are thought to chew ants live. They can barely get away once the mantis grabs them. Ants grow only 6 to 12 mm in length—nearly one-fifth of a mantis’ length. Mantises are cryptically colored ranging from brown, green to as bright as orchid flowers.

They get easily lost into the African brown grass or lush green vegetation of Central America. They are the masters of camouflage. Praying mantises go unnoticed even when ants get few millimeters closer to them. Therefore, mantises do not have to lure ants to come right to them.

You might also like: Do Praying Mantis Bite?

do praying mantis eat ants

Do Praying Mantis Change Color? – Praying Mantis Adaptations

do praying mantis change color
A dead leaf mantis, nearly indistinguishable from its habitat. CreditArt Wolfe/Science Source

Praying mantises are so cryptically colored and shaped that sometimes they get disappeared into their wild habitat. For those species that inhabit green vegetation they take the green shade while others including Carolina, they mimic orchid flowers and so on. However, do you really ever wonder if mantises are essentially camouflaged or they just change color to become one? Let’s see that!

Do Praying Mantis Change Color?

do praying mantis change color
A dead leaf mantis, nearly indistinguishable from its habitat.
CreditArt Wolfe/Science Source

While mantises aren’t generally known to take up their body color so they blend into the background like chameleons do, scientists claim that a few mantis species actually change color. Lately, the amazing mimetic abilities of a praying mantis caught the attention of researchers.

The European mantis (M. religiosa) is one such species that is thought to change color. It is predominantly occur in brown-grass habitats as well as green vegetation. Studies suggest that M. religiosa transforms into green-color body while it lives within the green grass. They do so right after they moult.

do praying mantis change color

According to researchers, the overall temperature of a mantis’ habitat; the humidity, and the light intensity play key role in the regarding mantis’ adaptations. But scientists claim that only baby praying mantis is capable to change its color. Adult mantises are just too bright for this.

Do Praying Mantis Change Color? – Video


References

HURD L. E., EISEMBERG R. M., 1984.- Experimental density manipulations of the predator Tenodera sinensis (Orthoptera: Mantidae) in an old-field community. I. Mortality, development and dispersal of juvenile mantids.- Journal of Animal Ecology, 53: 269-281.