Life cycle of Mantis Species from Resaca de la Palma State Parks (Part 13)
2.9        Body color

There were two different color morphs of Stagmomantis carolina collected from the park, specifically green and dark brown, as stated
in the first part of the report (see Reference 1). The hatchlings were greenish brown with green legs and head (see Figure 2.5-3). All
captive bred mantids in the net cage were subjected to dark green imitation leaves and twigs. The selected specimens were housed
individually and placed in transparent containers with white paper towels and aluminum mesh lids. In both instances, all the mantids
became browner after each molt.  By the 4th instar, most of the S. carolina were entirely brown in color from head to abdomen,
including all appendages. By the time the mantids reached adulthood, all specimens transformed into a darker brown color for both
genders. The following figure shows the color difference between the wild collected, green morph adult female and the captive bred,
darker brown morph adult female.
Figure 2.9-1: S. carolina adult females with
different color morphs
During the collecting trip, I noticed that the S. carolina adult females in the greener habitats were mostly green, but occasionally, there
were a few dark brown individuals found wandering among the green foliage. However, all the S. carolina adult females found in
darker habitats were always darker brown in color. This suggested that only the S. carolina mantids that matured in green
surroundings continued to adopt a green body color for protective camouflage, but switched to a darker color morph only when living in
an environment other than green. However, once the mantis developed into the darker color morph, it became permanently irreversible
and the mantis was unable to revert back to its original green or lighter color morph. Other factors such as humidity, food or light
intensity remained consistent throughout the captively bred period. The following photographs show several dried adult specimens, all
of which had emerged as dark brown in color.
Figure 2.9-2: S. carolina adult female dried specimen
Figure 2.9-3: S. carolina adult male dried specimen
2.10        Mating
One reason for the popularity of this insect was the well-known belief that the adult male was always cannibalized by the female
following copulation.  The male sacrificed its body to ensure that the necessary nutrients were provided to the female so that she could
develop healthy eggs after mating. The fact was that cannibalism occurred during mating, both in the wild and in captivity. However, the
adult male would likely survive the pairing if the female was well fed. Also, against popular belief, the adult male appeared to be
cautious when approaching a potential mate to avoid capture by the raptorial front legs of the female during mating and abruptly
fluttered away once the sexual organ was extracted.  This meant that the adult male attempted to avoid predation, struggling to survive
to perpetuate the species by continuing to search for more females.

In general, the adult male Stagmomantis carolina showed interest in adult females as early as 3-5 days after the last molt. Males were
indiscriminate in selecting a pairing partner. Upon seeing a potential mate, the male focused intently on the female while cautiously
edging towards her, usually from behind. In a few cases, the male stalked the female for a few hours before copulation, but in most
cases, the adult male wasted little time to mount the female, usually in less than five minutes, from the time the male spotted the
potential mate. The final maneuver was usually executed by a leap onto the female’s back (see Figure 2.10-1). In some cases, the
female resisted the advancement and instead attacked the male. If the female managed to turn around and grab the male’s thorax, the
chance of this adult male pairing was nearly impossible since the physically superior female would certainly devour him, usually
starting from the head. Therefore, this was the crucial moment for the male as to whether or not he was capable of passing his genetic
material to the next generation, which was highly dependent upon this leap of fate. To avoid being eaten, the male would grab on to the
female’s thorax with the front legs while clinging to her body with its head held low and close to the female’s body to avoid being
snatched. Once he seemed confident that the female would not attack, the male occasionally negotiated a 180 turn around on the
female’s back to examine the rear portion of female’s abdomen (see Figure 2.10-2). The actual reason for this was unknown. It was
likely due to the male’s attempt to confirm that it was an adult female or to ensure that female was receptive.
Figure 2.10-1: S. carolina pairing – leaping onto female
Figure 2.10-2: S. carolina pairing – turning around for
confirmation
After confirming the female’s receptivity, the male locked in to position by grabbing her thorax with both front legs, while the rest of the
middle and hind legs held onto the female’s abdomen or wings. Soon the male bent its abdomen in an attempt to insert its subgenital
plate inside the female at the rear of her abdomen (see Figure 2.10-3 and Figure 2.10-4). Once connected, male began passing
spermatozoa encased in a spermatophore into the female. A receptive female would then store the spermatozoa in the abdomen for
future use to fertilize eggs produced in the form of an ootheca. The mating pair usually remained connected for about 8-10 hours, but
could potentially stay connected for days, even after the male had completed the passing of spermatozoa to the female.
Figure 2.10-3: S. carolina pairing – bending abdomen
Figure 2.10-4: S. carolina pairing – staying connected
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To be continue - Part 14