The praying mantis reproduces in a strange way. The female praying mantis will bite off the male’s head and if mating has already begun, the males will have very vigorous movements while delivering the sperm. Although the female bites off the males head for mating, this is the typical way of going about feeding as well. The male attempts to engage the female in a courtship dance in order to persuade the female to go the mating route versus feeding. To mate after the courtship dance, the male praying mantis will leap onto the females back—collapsing her thorax and wing bases with his forelegs. Once the collapsing is done, he then bends his abdomen to place his sperm into a cavity that is located on the tip of the female’s abdomen. The female praying mantis is able to lie anywhere from 10 and 400 eggs which are coated in a substance produced by glands in her abdomen. This substance will harden and then acts as a protective coating. This protective coating and egg together are called an ootheca. Depending on the species, the ootheca will be placed in the ground, wrapped around a plant, or attached to a flat surface. These are preyed upon so sometimes the female will simply protect the ootheca herself. The prime mating period for the praying mantis in temperate climates begins in the fall. Like other insects in related groups, the praying mantis goes through three stages of metamorphosis—egg, nymph, and adult. The egg, which was previously described, differs from the nymph and the adult. The nymph and the adult are very similar with only a few exceptions. The nymph does not have wings or functional genitalia and is smaller in size compared to the adult. The nymph also is usually a different color than the adult, also. Although the nymph is smaller in size, it grows over time and it will eventually have a sturdy exoskeleton when necessary. Depending on the species, the nymph can have 5-10 different molts or exoskeletons before it is done and has wings. Once the final exoskeleton is gone and the wings appear, the so called nymph is now an adult.


                         Ootheca                                                      Male (brown) and female (green) mating                       

Generally, the life span for a praying mantis is not very long. For some species, specifically tropical species, the life span is about 10-12 months. If a praying mantis is kept in a lab and lives that way, he or she may be able to live an extra two months or so but not very much longer than that. Also, many of the female praying mantises that live in colder climates will not survive the winters. It is very common for a lot of the females to die during the colder weather along with any surviving males.    

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