Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 313–320 | Cite as

Mate attraction by females in a sexually cannibalistic praying mantis

Original Paper


We studied mate attraction by females of the praying mantid, Tenodera aridifolia sinensis, testing honest signaling of mate availability versus deceptive signaling to attract males for sexual cannibalism. We experimentally varied female diet and mating history and measured the rate of attraction of a wild population of males to caged females. Honest signaling theory predicts that virgin females will attract males at the greatest rate whereas deceptive signaling predicts that hungry females (which are more likely to cannibalize males) will attract more males, particularly among non-virgin females. Our results show that hungry females did not attract more males than well-fed females. Indeed, the opposite was true: hungry females attracted significantly fewer males. Moreover, hungry females were no more likely than well-fed females to attract males subsequent to mating, and mated females attracted males at a lower rate than did virgin females. We also observed female T. aridifolia sinensis and male Mantis religiosa arriving at the caged females and we discuss the significance of these observations. The results refute the hypothesis of deceptive signaling and show that mate attraction signals of female T. aridifolia sinensis are honest indicators of female mate availability and a lower risk of sexual cannibalism.


Mantodea Honest signaling Pheromones Praying mantis Sexual cannibalism Sexual attraction 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyState University of New York at FredoniaFredoniaUSA

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