- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Hopefully, the male didn't lose his head.
Which begs a question asked by a reader: How long after mating does the female lay or produce her egg case (ootheca)?
"Usually it takes a week or two for temperate species, but tropical species can take much longer," says mantis expert Andrew Pfeifer of Monroe County, N.C., administrator for the public Facebook page, Mantis Keepers. "My Plistospilota guineensis took almost a month to lay hers. Mantis mating is a relatively straightforward process. A mature female will release pheromones to attract a male from a distance, hence why his antennae are longer and thicker. Upon getting close, he uses sight to find her. The male will slowly approach from behind, leaping on her back and using his antennae to calm her down by tapping her pronotum. Usually he will immediately curl his abdomen under her body until he meets her ovipositor, where he inserts his claspers. They will copulate for hours, with my longest pairing lasting two days. Eventually he will jump away, usually flying off to a safe distance from the female."
"The laying process itself can take anywhere from an hour to almost five depending on the size of the ooth," Pfeifer says. The Plistospilota guineensis ootheca is about as large as they can be, roughly equal to a large chicken egg."
Pfeifer, recently featured on Bug Squad, kindly shared his images of the adult mega mantids and a ootheca (see below) which is indeed enormous.
And how many mantids does he think might emerge from this mega mantis? "This one can contain upwards of 400," he says.
And THAT is a lot of mantids.
(Editor's Note: Praying mantids are among the insects featured in the live "petting zoo" at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, University of California, Davis, campus. The Bohart, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will host an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. The theme is "Parasitoid Palooza" (featuring jewel wasps, nematodes and flies) but mantids can also be seen and photographed in the petting zoo. The event is free and open to the public and family friendly. Bohart Museum associate and UC Davis student Lohitashwa "Lohit" Garikipati breeds mantids and donated part of his collection, including an orchid mantis, to the Bohart. He is secretary of the UC Davis Entomology Club, advised by forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, and is a member of the Facebook page, Mantis Keepers).
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
An orchid mantis and a ghost mantis fascinated visitors at the recent open house hosted by the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Officers of the UC Davis Entomology Club displayed mantids from the collection of secretary Lohitashwa "Lohit" Garikipati, who breeds the insects.
Garikipati also showed the European praying mantis, Mantis religiosa, an introduced species, and a native mantis, Stagmomantis limbata.
But it was a female orchid mantis that drew the most attention. The pink and white insect resembles orchid petals.
Helping him show the insects were Ent Club president Chloe Shott and treasurer Crystal Homicz. Membership in the club, which meets on Mondays at 6 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, is open to all interested persons. Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology serves as the advisor. Club activities include speaker presentations, outings, a float in the UC Davis Picnic Day parade, open house at Briggs Hall during the Picnic Day; and scientific excursions to Alcatraz Island.
All Bohart Museum open houses are family friendly and free and open to the public. The museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
The next weekend open houses scheduled are:
- Saturday, Nov. 18, "Parasitoid Palooza," from 1 to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Jan. 21: "Bug-Art @ The Bohart," from 1 to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 17: The campuswide "Biodiversity Museum Day" (hours to be announced)
- Saturday, April 21: The all-day campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids, and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, offers T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
For more information, contact the firstname.lastname@example.org or access the website or Facebook page. For more information on praying mantis, see Mantis Keepers, a Facebook page administered by Andrew Pfeifer of Monroe County, North Carolina.