Why does the female praying mantis eat the male after sex?

 

Female praying mantises may not be the villains they have been made out to be

 

Surprisingly enough, this is actually a myth! Sort of. It has been around for a long time and its said that the female will detach and consume the head of her mate during, or sometimes immediately after, copulation. Occasionally she will even eat the whole body. The reason given for this is, it provides the female with a vital source of protein to help her produce lots of healthy eggs.

This rumour was challenged with one notable study published in 1984. A group of entomologists closely watched 30 pairs of praying mantises and not one of the males was unfortunate enough to suffer from post-coital decapitation. This has also been observed and noted by numerous other scientists, further confirming the discovery.

Although the males aren’t quite out of the danger zone, sometimes the females do eat their partners but this is definitely does not occur after every mating incident. It is quite rare and it’s been argued it may only happen in captivity when she’s extremely hungry and not fed enough. Although there have been some documented cases of a male offering himself to the female, to ensure she survives to pass on his genes.

 

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Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje

 

Photograph: Jojo Cruzado