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Praying mantis: life cycle, reproduction, mating and how to attract it to the garden. Nutrition and advice.
Therepraying mantis(Mantis Religious)it is an insect that fascinates for its shapes and its behavior, especially when it comes to reproduction and mating.
About 2,500 species of mantises are known. In Italy there are 12 and the most widespread is theMantis Religious. Among the 12 species ofmantisespresent in Italy, probably theAmeles fasciipennis-endemic to the Marches- it became extinct due to the use of pesticides in the countryside and the destruction of its natural habitats.
TherePraying mantisis a cosmopolitan species, it is the most widespread even if its color can be misleading: you should not be surprised if you see abrown praying mantisor yellow. Its body color can be green (the most common) but also browner, go brown or migrate to straw yellow. This species, in fact, is able to change the color of the coat after each moult. This strategy is implemented forblend inin vegetation and being invisible to predators.
Praying mantis: reproduction
The adult specimen (reaches maturity in August) can reach a length of 6-7 cm. Therereproductionoccurs in late summer when males meet with females forcoupling.
L'couplingit is an act not without risks for thepraying mantis male and the reason is well known: in this species thesexual cannibalism sometimes practiced by females. During mating, the female praying mantis can devour the male which is a rich source of nourishment. The male (not spontaneously!) Sacrifices himself to fatten the female for the purpose of spawning. Sexual cannibalism is not a practicestandard, although very widespread: it occurs when the female needs nutritional sustenance.
It is important to clarify that thepraying mantis malehe does not sacrifice himself spontaneously, the male tries in every way to escape the clutches of the female, in fact the more agile ones untangle themselves and manage to disappear before ending up in the female's jaws.
Thelife cycleof thepraying mantisit generally ends in winter, with the first severe cold, but only after the female has managed to form the ootheca (a sac containing the eggs) and ensure a safe place for it. The ooteca is a bag that collects eggs and protects them from cold and bad weather: the eggs ofpraying mantis, after winter deposition, they will only be able to hatch with the increase in temperatures the following spring.
The praying mantis as a bioindicator: symbol of a healthy environment
Just as the Posidonia oceanica can be an indication of clean waters, thepraying mantiscan be considered aenvironmental indicatorfor the presence of good biodiversity. To understand what a bioindicator is, I refer you to the article dedicated to "lichens as bioindicators".
Recent studies have shown a marked correlation between the presence ofpraying mantisand a healthy and unpolluted environment. The presence ofmantisesin fact, it has been correlated with other insects already known to be good environmental indicators. The reason would be found in its diet: the food sources of the mantis are particularly sensitive to pollutants.
What does the praying mantis eat: nutrition
Thepraying mantisesthey are excellent predators: they remain motionless for long periods and then shoot easily in case of a prey.
Even shortly after hatching, in spring, when themantisesthey measure a few millimeters, they feed on aphids and small dipters (midges and the like). As adults they manage to catch and feed on crickets and even large grasshoppers. Therepraying mantistherefore, it can only survive in an environment capable of guaranteeing good biodiversity. Praying mantises also feed on bees, flies, bumblebees and other insects generally considered useful for the environment.
If you notice onepraying mantis in the garden, avoid disturbing it: this insect can be very useful in the garden by feeding on the most common plant parasites.
How to attract mantises to the garden?
Just leave part of the garden uncultivated: the tall herbaceous vegetation is the natural habitat for mantises. A thorny bush such as a bramble or wild steppe can attract mantises but only as long as no pesticides are used in your garden.
Praying mantis: popular symbology
It has always been one of the most fascinating and mysterious animals: it evokes myths and legends! Just think the name of its genusMantis, comes from the Greek and meansprophet. This is because theMantisit is perceived by man as a contemplative, reflective animal intent on the deepest meditation. Theresymbologyit is linked to the perception of man and to draw certain conclusions is the position of the front legs of this insect, held in a joint position, to recall the position of prayer.