He was her first mate. Never had she met such a virile, handsome male. He had wooed her and charmed her; they had just made love. To her dismay, her true nature emerged. She couldn’t stop from turning and eating him while they were still entwined in love.
Praying mantids always do such things.
- Mantis couple – User:Zwentibold on Wikimedia Commons. Click the image to reach the source page. Used here under Creative Commons 3.0 (Unported) free license.
- Bizarre behaviour – User:Apple2000 on Wikimedia Commons. Rest as for photo above.
- 55 Fiction – Signpost : Thanks to Shilpa Garg for allowing its use on this blog.
Why do male mantids allow themselves to be eaten? One theory says that sex has got nothing to do with the female’s foraging. In other words, she multi-tasks! 😉
Another theory, based on a view of ethology that an organism is nothing more than a vehicle for genes, states that animals will follow lifestyles which will maximise their fitness and success of getting offspring. In this case, the male mantis by allowing himself to be eaten improves the female’s fecundity by providing quality nutrition and correspondingly improving the chances of successfully passing on his genes.
Yet another disputed theory says that the eating of the head of the male results in a longer, vigorous sex act with increased chances of fertilisation.
Some experiments suggest that sexual cannibalism is observed laboratory behaviour caused by human presence. There have been indications that in the field sexual cannibalism may not be so rampant.
The mystery here is not the cannibalism, which is perfectly understood as an adaptive female strategy to maximise her reproductive success, but the male’s complicity in doing so.
Read more about sexual cannibalism in insects here.
Oh and don’t forget to read “Unrequited Love“.