At the Konpira Shrine in Kagawa Prefecture (Shikoku Japan), I photographed a praying mantis that closely resembled the praying mantis we see on our property near Lookout CA (Modoc County). I later discovered, much to my surprise, that this praying mantis in Japan (Tenodera aridifolia) is also found in California.
Also commonly called a Japanese giant mantis or a Chinese praying mantis, T aridifolia is native to Asia, specifically Japan, India and Indonesia. Introduced into the United States in 1896 for pest control, the praying mantis is now common throughout the United States, especially the eastern United States and California.
A ferocious, solitary predator, a praying mantis hunts by remaining motionless until its prey comes within reach then extending its forelegs (“arms”) with lightning quick speed to capture its prey. Its diet chiefly consists of insects and spiders, but it will also take small reptiles, amphibians and even an occasional hummingbird. When prey is scarce, praying mantis (both adults and nymphs) will eat flower pollen. Because of their voracious appetites, praying mantis should be called “preying” mantis.
Female praying mantis exhibit strong sexual cannibalism. The female usually eats the male during or following copulation. The benefit to the female is that she obtains food in this manner. Males are said to also benefit from this cannibalism. A male can continue to copulate even after being beheaded (but cannot go on to mate with other females). Prolonged copulation insures increased transmission of sperm and prevents other males from mating with the female. I guess?
This tan, brown or green predator spends most of its time on herbaceous plants, woody shrubs and flowers. Its preferred habitat includes grasslands, meadows, woodlands and areas near rivers and streams.
Praying mantis are hemimetabolous, that is, they have “incomplete” development compared to other insects. The life cycle consists of egg – larva (also called nymph) that undergo several instars (stages of development) – adult. They do not go through a pupa (cocoon) stage.
More information about the praying mantis is contained in my earlier post – “Praying Mantis” on 10-12-2011.