The Gordon Gnohm

Play along at home, read Future Farmer in The Braidwood Bugle every Wednesday. 


praying mantis

What The Fact?? Praying Mantis

Praying mantis are a little odd. They have one ear, and five eyes.  

Say What?

Their ear is located in the centre of their chest between their legs. They can hear far better than humans but cannot tell which direction the sound is coming from. They have two large wide set eyes for hunting, as well as three simple eyes on the top of the head for keeping track of the time of day. 

The Eyes Have It

The creepy thing about the main pair of eyes is that they always appear to be watching you! Insects have compound eyes which don’t have a pupil like our eyes do, but the way light is absorbed and reflected in the mantis eye produces the optical illusion of a pupil which follows you around like the Mona Lisa’s eyes. It is thought that this pseudo-pupil is all about making bats and birds (mantis major predators) feel uncomfortable, but it sure works on people too!

Boss Predator

Mantis are the ultimate sit-and-wait predators. They are usually brown or green, going to great lengths to look like sticks and leaves. Even their egg cases look like seeds or pieces of wood, and the juveniles often mimic ants! They are able to sit very still for a very long time, waiting for an insect to bumble past. They then launch an incredibly fast and furious attack. They can eat all sorts of invertebrates, and the big ones will even have a go at frogs and lizards! 

Mantis are apex predators and are very beneficial to your Backyard Ecosystem. Though they do eat ALL the insects including bees and ladybeetles, but nobody is perfect. The best way to attract them is to let your garden be a little wild, with lots of hiding spots and insects to eat.

Why Cannibalism?

Most people know that praying mantises indulge in a bit of sexual cannibalism, but do you know why? 

Life is hard for a working mum, and laying an egg case with hundreds of eggs takes a lot of energy. If she has been struggling to get enough to eat, a female mantid has a choice: lay less eggs, or eat the dad? 

It is in her interest to lay as many eggs as she can, because evolution favours those that leave the most offspring. The dad might see things differently, but this could be the only chance he has to mate, so it can be in his interests to be eaten if it means that she can lay about 25% more eggs! Nature is anything but sentimental.

Nonetheless, if she looks hungry he will approach very, very carefully, and try to mate from as far away as possible!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top