Life cycle of Mantis Species from Resaca de la Palma State Parks
2.1.1 Life span
The following table presented the lifespan in captivity of the wild collected adult females.
Table 2.1: Lifespan of collected S. carolina adult mantis in captivity
Mantis Collected Date Decease Date Days in captivity Number of oothecae
SF1 10/29/10 3/31/11 154 11
SF2 10/29/10 12/12/10 45 1
SF3 10/29/10 12/14/10 47 1
SF4 10/29/10 12/06/10 39 2
SF5 10/29/10 02/01/11 96 0
Compared with SF1, the other adult females (especially SF2, 3, and 4) had a shorter lifespan and produced only one or two oothecae
each in captivity. The mantids were also less robust compared to the typical S. carolina (also, see Reference 2). The death of
specimens SF2, SF3, and SF4 seemed to be premature. Although displaying no signs of starvation, the mantids appeared lethargic
and lost their grip shortly before dying. Black clots accumulated along the abdomen (see red circle in Figure 2.1.1-1 and 2.1.1-2) of all
three specimens, which may have been the cause for the shortened life span. SF5 continued to live for slightly more than three months
before succumbing to old age, but without depositing any ootheca. SF1 was the longest living specimen, at more than 5 months in
captivity. Its robust nature and aggressive behavior towards prey helped to sustain its longevity. SF1 also produced the greatest
number of oothecae (almost three times as many as the total combined oothecae deposited by rest of the adult specimens), which
Figure 2.1.1-1: Clot on S. carolina’s abdomen
Figure 2.1.1-2: Clots on S. carolina’s abdomen
2.2 Making of ootheca
Before depositing the ootheca, the female mantis exhibited restlessness while attempting to find the best location for the ootheca. The
adult female also rejected food and constantly fended off any feeder insects with its raptorial front legs.
Gravid adult females have been observed depositing oothecae primarily at night, since no fresh oothecae were noticed during the day.
The purpose of laying oothecae at night was probably to avoid visibility and falling prey to other predators.
When the adult female decided on the location for depositing the ootheca, it positioned its body in such a way that its head faced
downward while the four walking legs sustained a firm grip. The abdomen started to curl downward, with the ovipositor touching the
surface, sensing for the best spot to start depositing the ootheca material. Soon some whitish material was secreted from the last
segment of female’s abdomen (see Figure 2.2-1).
Figure 2.2-1: S. carolina building ootheca
The female will first deposit a layer of whitish substance on the surface, moving only the last few segments of the abdomen to form the
first part of the ootheca, which was the foam material, before laying the eggs in the hollow center of the ootheca foam. The thin layer of
foamy substance covering the eggs eventually became the shell for protecting the eggs inside the ootheca. The female then continued
to build the ootheca by moving the ovipositor from one side to the other and also up and down while secreting the whitish,
proteinaceous material and laying layer after layer of eggs inside the center of the foamy material (see Figure 2.2-2)
Figure 2.2-2: S. carolina building ootheca
During the entire process, the last few segments contracted and expanded frequently to aid the process of secreting ootheca material,
while the body of the mantis remained relatively stationary, only to reposition itself if the ootheca was too long for the mantid’s
ovipositor to reach. The freshly deposited ootheca remained soft and pale in the first hour, remaining relatively lighter brown in color for
the first day (see Figure 2.2-3), but turned brown with a hard, coarse texture a few days later (see Figure 2.2-4), except for the ootheca
seam (see Figure 2.2-5), which remained lighter in color.
Figure 2.2-3: S. carolina ootheca within 24
Figure 2.2-4: S. carolina ootheca after a few days
Figure 2.2-5: S. carolina ootheca seam
It took about one to two hours to completely build the entire ootheca. Afterwards, the female hovered near the ootheca for a day or two,
feeding if possible, but eventually moved away from the ootheca, indicating that the adult female mantis of this species carried no
maternal instincts in caring for the hatchlings.