Researchers find native male praying mantises falling prey to invading females

Nov 27, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
Praying mantis
Praying mantis, Sphodromantis viridis. Credit: Adamantios/Wikipedia.

(Phys.org) —A trio of researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand has found that male praying mantises are being eaten when they attempt to mate with an invasive species of female mantis. In their paper they've had published in the journal Biology Letters, the team describes a field study they undertook to find out if the invading species of praying mantis is causing a decline in the one native species found in the island nation.

Prior to 1970's there was just one kind of praying mantis in New Zealand, Orthodera novaezealandiae. Since that time a new species (Miomantis caffra) from South Africa has arrived. The two species resemble one another of course, but have two major differences. The first is that the invaders are much bigger than the . The second is that the female invaders engage in sexual cannibalism—eating their mates after copulation. Fearing that the invaders might be displacing the native mantises, the researchers set out to study how the two species interact.

The research team first collected both male and female samples of both species. Next, they used a Y-tube with a single spout on one end and double spout on the other to test the drawing power of the invading female. When they placed one of the invading females near one of the double spouts, and a male near the single spout, he chose to proceed towards her, rather than escape out the empty spout. The males did the same even when a female of their own species was placed near the other spout, showing a clear preference for the invading females.

The first experiment was followed up by another to test the survivability of males that attempted to mate with a foreign female—it was low, only 30 percent of the males survived the encounter. To compare the two, the researchers also tested invasive males' survival rates when attempting to mate with invasive females. It was much higher, almost 70 percent of them warded off death.

The researchers suspect that the invasive females give off more enticing pheromones than the native , and also suggest that invasive have learned to perform evasive maneuvers when mating with their native female mates to give themselves a better chance of survival.

The researchers note that while they have learned a lot about the invasive mantises, they still have not learned enough to be able to predict whether the invasive is displacing the native one, thus, more research will have to be conducted.

Explore further: Study duo find adaptive value of same-sex pairing in Laysan albatross

More information: Fatal attraction: sexually cannibalistic invaders attract naive native mantids, Published 27 November 2013 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0746

Abstract
Overlap in the form of sexual signals such as pheromones raises the possibility of reproductive interference by invasive species on similar, yet naive native species. Here, we test the potential for reproductive interference through heterospecific mate attraction and subsequent predation of males by females of a sexually cannibalistic invasive praying mantis. Miomantis caffra is invasive in New Zealand, where it is widely considered to be displacing the only native mantis species, Orthodera novaezealandiae, and yet mechanisms behind this displacement are unknown. We demonstrate that native males are more attracted to the chemical cues of introduced females than those of conspecific females. Heterospecific pairings also resulted in a high degree of mortality for native males. This provides evidence for a mechanism behind displacement that has until now been undetected and highlights the potential for reproductive interference to greatly influence the impact of an invasive species.

Related Stories

Reversal of the black widow myth

May 06, 2013

The Black Widow spider gets its name from the popular belief that female spiders eat their male suitors after mating. However, a new study has shown that the tendency to consume a potential mate is also true of some types ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

4 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

22 hours ago

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

hemitite
1.6 / 5 (5) Nov 27, 2013
"Do you believe in predation on the first date?"
obama_socks
1 / 5 (9) Nov 27, 2013
Women's Lib mantis-style

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...