Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 261–282 | Cite as

Appetitive Responses to Computer-Generated Visual Stimuli by Female Rhombodera basalis, Deroplatys lobata, Hierodula membranacea, and Miomantis sp. (Insecta: Mantodea)

  • Frederick R. PreteEmail author
  • Salina Dominguez
  • Justin L. Komito
  • Robert Theis
  • Jessica M. Dominguez
  • Lawrence E. Hurd
  • Gavin J. Svenson


We used computer-generated stimuli to assess the stimulus parameters eliciting prey-directed behaviors in four mantis species: Rhombodera basalis (60 mm body length), Deroplatys lobata (70 mm), Hierodula membranacea (80 mm), Miomantis sp (38 mm). All responded appetitively to erratically moving disks subtending 10° or more. R. basalis responded more consistently to checkered (versus solid black) disks; only D. lobata displayed a size preference (14–23 deg disks); Miomantis sp. struck at disks as large as did the largest species; only Miomantis sp. displayed approaching behavior. H. membranacea and R. basalis preferred black disks on a white background (versus the reverse), and red disks (versus blue or green) on a brightness-matched grey background. All preferred elongated stimuli moving parallel (versus perpendicular) to their long axes.


Praying mantis insect vision prey recognition object recognition prey capture 



We thank the Department of Biology and the NEIU Student Center for Science Engagement, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education (CCRAA HSI P031C080027) for their support. In particular, we acknowledge the collegial help and support that we received from Dr. Marcelo Sztainberg, Dr. Stephanie Levi, and Marilyn Saavedra-Leyva. We also thank Zahra Hosseinian, Aissatou Diallo, and Annum Qureshi for collecting pilot data for the experiments on wavelength discrimination, and Dr. Shannon Saszik (Department of Psychology, NEIU) for her collaboration in designing and interpreting the results of that pilot data. We are also grateful to the journal editor, referees, and Dr. Aaron Schirmer for their thoughtful comments and suggestions all of which improved the manuscript. In all cases, the experimental animals were treated with the appropriate concerns and we operated in accordance within all applicable ethical and animal care guidelines. This work was supported by an SCSE Summer Research Opportunities Grant and an NEIU Research Community Grant to FRP.


  1. Arikawa K, Uchiyama H (1996) Red receptors dominate the proximal tier of the retina in the butterfly Papilio xuthus. J Comp Physiol A 178:55–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armitage P, Berry G (1994) Statistical methods in medical research. Blackwell, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnqvist G, Johansson F (1998) Ontogenetic reaction norms of predator-induced defensive morphology in dragonfly larvae. Ecol 79:1847–1858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartley, J. A. (1983). Prey Selection and Capture by the Chinese Mantid (Tenodera sinensis, Saussure) Dissertation, University of Delaware: Newark NJ USAGoogle Scholar
  5. Bowdish TI, Bultman TL (1993) Visual cues used by mantids in learning aversion to aposematically colored prey. Am Midl Nat 129:215–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burmeister H (1838) Handbuch der Entomologie. fangschrechen, mantodea, vol. 2 (5-8). BerlinGoogle Scholar
  7. Dale S (2005) Praying mantis preying on vertebrates. West Aust Nat 24:247–249Google Scholar
  8. De Haan W (1842) Bijdragen tot de kennis der orthoptera zoologie. In: Temminck KJ (ed) Verhanlingen over de Natuurlike Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Overzeesche Bezittingers. Natuurkuundige Commissie in Indie, Leiden, pp 45–248Google Scholar
  9. Eisenberg RM, Hurd LE, Bartley JA (1981) Ecological consequences of food limitation for adult mantids (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis Saussure). Amer Midl Nat 106:209–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ewert JP (2004) Motion perception shapes the visual world of amphibians. In: Prete FR (ed) Complex worlds from simpler nervous systems. MIT, Cambridge, pp 117–160Google Scholar
  11. Fagan WF, Hurd LE (1994) Hatch density variation of a generalist arthropod predator: population consequences and community impact. Ecol 75:2022–2032CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Friedman M (1937) The use of ranks to avoid the assumption of normality implicit in the analysis of variance. J Am Stat Assoc 32:675–701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Geischeider GA (1997) Psychophysics: The fundamentals. Lawrence Erlbaum, MahwahGoogle Scholar
  14. Gonka MD, Laurie TJ, Prete FR (1999) Responses of movement sensitive descending visual interneurons to prey-like stimuli in the praying mantis, Sphodromantis lineola (Burmeister). Brain Beh Evol 54:243–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Guérin-Méneville FE (1838) Insectes, arachnides et Crustaces. In Laplace, Voyage Autour du Monde sur la Favorite. Guérin Mag Zool Ins 8:1–80Google Scholar
  16. Holling CS (1964) The analysis of complex population processes. Can Entomol 96:335–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Holling CS, Dunbrack RL, Dill LM (1976) Predator size and prey size: presumed relationship in the mantis Hierodula coarctata Saussure. Can J Zool 54:1760–1764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hurd LE (1999) Ecology of praying mantids. In: Prete FR, Wells H, Wells PH, Hurd LE (eds) The praying mantids. Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, pp 43–60Google Scholar
  19. Hurd LE, Eisenberg RM (1984) Experimental density manipulations of the predator Tenodera sinensis (Orthoptera:Mantidae) in an old-field community I. Mortality, development and dispersal of juvenile mantids. J Anim Ecol 53:269–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hurd LE, Eisenberg RM (1990) Arthropod community responses to manipulation of a bitrophic predator guild. Ecol 76:2107–2114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hurd LE, Eisenberg RM, Fagan WF et al (1994) Cannibalism reverses male-biased sex ratio in adult mantids: female strategy against food limitation? Oikos 69:193–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hurd LE, Mallis RE, Bulka KC, Jones AM (2004) Life history, environment, and deme extinction in the Chinese mantid Tenodera aridifolia sinensis (Mantodea: Mantidae). Environ Entomol 33:182–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Iwasaki T (1991) Predatory behavior of the praying mantis, Tenodera aridifolia II. Combined effect of prey size and predator size on the prey recognition. J Ethol 9:77–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kaltenpoth M (2005) Life history and morphometry of the Chinese praying mantis, Tenodera aridifolia sinensis (Blattopteroidea:Mantodea). Entomol Gen 28:1–16Google Scholar
  25. Kral K, Poteser M (2009) Relationship between body size and spatial vision in the praying mantis—an ontogenetic study. J Orthoptera Res 18:153–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kral K (2003) Behavioural–analytical studies of the role of head movements in depth perception in insects, birds and mammals. Behav Processes 64:1–12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kral K, Prete FR (2004) In the mind of a hunter: the visual world of the praying mantis. In: Prete FR (ed) Complex worlds from simpler nervous systems. MIT, Cambridge, pp 75–115Google Scholar
  28. Liske E (1999) The hierarchical organization of mantid behavior. In: Prete FR, Wells H, Wells P, Hurd LE (eds) The praying mantids. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore, pp 224–250Google Scholar
  29. Liske E, Davis WJ (1987) Courtship and mating behaviour of the Chinese praying mantis, Tenodera aridifolia sinensis. Anim Behav 35:1524–1537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Maxwell MR (2000) Does a single meal affect female reproductive output in the sexually cannibalistic praying mantid, Iris oratoria? Ecol Entomol 25:54–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Menzel R (1979) Spectral sensitivity and color vision in invertebrates. In: Autrum H (ed) Handbook of sensory physiology, vol. VII/6A. Springer, Berlin, pp 503–580Google Scholar
  32. Poteser M, Pabst MA, Kral K (1998) Proprioceptive contribution to distance estimation by motion parallax in a praying mantid. J Exp Biol 201:1483–1491Google Scholar
  33. Prete FR (1992) The effects of background pattern and contrast on prey discrimination by the praying mantis Sphodromantis lineola (Burr). Brain Behav Evol 40:311–320PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Prete FR (1993) Stimulus direction and retinal image location affect appetitive responses to computer generated stimuli by the praying mantis Sphodromantis lineola (Burr). Vis Neurosci 10:997–1005PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Prete FR (1999a) Prey recognition. In: Prete FR, Wells H, Wells P, Hurd LE (eds) The praying mantids. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore, pp 141–179Google Scholar
  36. Prete FR (1999b) Rearing techniques, developmental time, and life span data for lab-reared Sphodromantis lineola. In: Prete FR, Wells H, Wells P, Hurd LE (eds) The praying mantids. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore, pp 303–310Google Scholar
  37. Prete FR (2007) Anthropomorphism: The myth of “Sexual cannibalism” by the praying mantis. In: Bekoff M (ed) Encyclopedia of human-animal relationships. Greenwood Publishing Group Phoenix, AZ, pp 68–71Google Scholar
  38. Prete FR, Mahaffey RJ (1993) Appetitive responses to computer generated visual stimuli by the praying mantis Sphodromantis lineola (Burr). Vis Neurosci 10:669–679PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Prete FR, McLean T (1996) Responses to moving small-field stimuli by the praying mantis, Sphodromantis lineola (Burr). Brain Behav Evol 47:52–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Prete FR, Wolfe MM (1992) Religious supplicant, seductive cannibal, or reflex machine? In search of the praying mantis. J Hist Biol 25:91–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Prete FR, Placek PJ, Wilson MA, Mahaffey RJ, Nemcek RR (1993) The effects of stimulus speed and order of presentation on the discrimination of visual stimuli representing prey by the praying mantis Sphodromantis lineola (Burr). Brain Behav Evol 42:281–294PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Prete FR, Hurd LE, Branstrator D, Johnson A (2002) Responses to computer generated visual stimuli by the male praying mantis, Sphodromantis lineola (Burmeister). Anim Behav 63:503–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Prete FR, Komito JL, Dominguez S et al (2011) Visual stimuli that elicit appetitive behaviors in three morphologically distinct species of praying mantis. J Comp Physiol A 197:877–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Prete FR, Theis RJ, Komito JL et al (2012) Visual Stimuli that Elicit Visual Tracking, Approaching and Striking Behavior from an Unusual Praying Mantis, Euchomenella macrops (Insecta: Mantodea). J Insect Physiol 58:648–659PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Prokop P, Václav R (2008) Seasonal aspects of sexual cannibalism in the praying mantis (Mantis relgiosa). J Ethol 26:213–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Reitze R, Nentwig W (1991) Comparative investigations into the feeding ecology of six Mantodea species. Oecologia 86:568–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ridpath MG (1977) Predation on frogs and small birds by Hierodula werneri (GT) (Mantidae) in tropical Australia. J Aust Ent Soc 16:153–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rilling S, Mittelstaedt H, Roeder K (1959) Prey recognition in the praying mantis. Behav 14:164–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rossel S (1980) Foveal fixation and tracking in the praying mantis. J Comp Physiol A 139:307–331Google Scholar
  50. Sontag C (1971) Spectral sensitivity studies on the visual system of the praying mantis, Tenodera sinensis. J Gen Physiol 57:93–112PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Svenson GJ, Whiting MF (2009) Reconstructing the origins of praying mantises (Dictyoptera, Mantodea): the roles of Gondwanan vicariance and morphological convergence. Cladistics 25:468–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Towner P, Gärtner W (1994) The primary structure of mantid opsin. Gene 143:227–231PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Watanabe Y, Yano E (2009) Stage-specific defensive strategies of three mantid species, Tenodera aridifolia, Hierodura patellifera, and Statilia maculate, against a natural enemy, the Japanese skink Takydromus tachydromoides. Ann Entomol Soc Amer 102:517–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Woo KL, Rieucau G (2011) From dummies to animations: a review of computer-animated stimuli used in animal behavior studies. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 65:1671–1685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Yamawaki Y (2000) Saccadic tracking of a light grey target in the mantis, Tenodera aridifolia. J Insect Physiol 46:203–210PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yamawaki Y (2006) Investigating saccade programming in the praying mantis Tenodera aridifolia using distracter interference paradigms. J Insect Physiol 52:1062–1072PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yamawaki Y, Toh Y (2003) Response properties of visual interneurons to motion stimuli in the praying mantis, Tenodera aridifolia. Zoolog Sci (Tokyo) 20:819–832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yamawaki Y, Toh Y (2009) A descending contralateral directionally selective movement detector in the praying mantis Tenodera aridifolia. J Comp Physiol A 195:1131–1139CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederick R. Prete
    • 1
    Email author
  • Salina Dominguez
    • 1
  • Justin L. Komito
    • 1
  • Robert Theis
    • 1
  • Jessica M. Dominguez
    • 1
  • Lawrence E. Hurd
    • 2
  • Gavin J. Svenson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyNortheastern Illinois UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyWashington and Lee UniversityLexingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Invertebrate ZoologyCleveland Museum of Natural HistoryClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations