Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mating Mantis Mania

Over Labor Day Weekend, while watering, Gloria spotted a praying mantis in the butterfly bush. She called for me to come quickly. And as we looked more carefully and chased it around with various cameras, we gradually realized this was a female carrying her sex partner on her back--copulating. Their sexual liaison bordered on grotesque, since the male had inserted a section of his entire abdomen into hers. Coitus with a fire hose. This reminded us of the Green Porn video short (didn't she say the female sometimes eats the male afterwards?!)

It turns out their joining was not particularly hurried. We continued to check on them (and they--in roughly the same position) for more than an hour before we lost interest. In the meanwhile, I spotted a second individual on the same bush. Another green (the 2nd photo here). Are the sexes color coded? Was this second mantis a jealous male? A juvenile bothering mom at an inopportune time? A female hoping to catch some action after big Bertha was satisfied?

And if we were seeing copulation, what might happen next? Will she lay eggs? Where? When? (How might we recognize them?) And roughly what is their life span?

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