Seasonal aspects of sexual cannibalism in the praying mantis (Mantis religiosa)
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According to the adaptive foraging hypothesis of sexual cannibalism, females face a trade-off between mating and consuming a courting male. Because male and prey availability can change seasonally, sexual cannibalism may change with season. However, we are not aware of any work examining how sexual cannibalism in insects relates to the time of season. Here, we examined the seasonal pattern of sexual cannibalism and reproductive behaviour in the sexually cannibalistic praying mantis (Mantis religiosa). We repeatedly collected the last instars of praying mantises from the field and brought them up under natural weather and photoperiod, but standardised feeding and socioecological conditions. After the females reached sexual maturity, we allowed all of the females to mate during two mating trials. In comparison to female praying mantises maturing later in the season, early-maturing females were larger but of poorer body condition on the day of a mating trial (20 days after the adult moult). During the first round of mating trials, early-maturing virgin females cannibalised males more frequently than their late-maturing counterparts. In contrast, late-maturing females that mated in the first round of mating trials were more likely than early-maturing, nonvirgin females to be cannibalistic in the second round of mating trials. The latency time until copulation was correlated with a risk of sexual cannibalism and was longer in early-maturing females. Our study suggests that the date of the last (adult) moult plays an important role in the occurrence of sexual cannibalism.
KeywordsSexual cannibalism Season Mating status Foraging strategies Praying mantis Mantis religiosa
P.P. and R.V. were partly funded by the VEGA grant no. 2/4082/04 of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. The study was conducted under approval from the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic (license number 1430/467/04-5.1).
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