While most animals are easy to differentiate based on sex, others not so much. Mantids fall into the latter category, especially for profane breeders who don’t have a firm grasp of the species.
However, differentiating between males and females is crucial since they have different biological roles, anatomical capabilities, and needs.
Today’s article will have a look into the core differences between the male and female Praying mantis. This will help you understand how to approach each specimen and provide your mantis with proper care.
Here are the 5 core differences to remember between the male and female Praying mantis:
The male mantis has 8 abdominal segments since its body is proportionally longer, while the female only has 6 segments. This difference is quite amazing, considering that the female mantis can be twice the male size if you also consider its bulkiness. While it is worth noting the difference in abdominal segments, that’s usually the last thing you would be looking at.
There are other, more noticeable differences between the male and female, with the abdominal segments being the less important one. It’s still worthy of mentioning since the number of abdominal segments is also an indicator of the mantis’s growth cycle.
Body Size and Shape
This is where things start to become more obvious. The distinctions in body size and shape are so clear that it’s unlikely that you will get it wrong. Male Praying mantids tend to have slimmer bodies than females, who are a lot bulkier and more massive. Males are also visibly smaller, which can make turn them into victims if the female decides she’s hungry during the mating period.
It’s one of the reasons why their whole lives’ purpose is to mate, and they often sacrifice themselves in the process. Since they are thinner, lighter, and smaller in size, male Praying mantids can fly, whereas the females can’t. You should also consider this when selecting your favorite gender to breed.
Wings and Flying
This is also a compelling area where you can see clear distinctions. The male Praying mantis has longer wings, spanning across its body and even beyond a bit. Combine this with the shorter, thing body, and you have a flying insect on your hands. The female, however, has shorter wings which are in no way fit to lift that bulky, heavy body.
The females can’t fly, which means they rely on their environment to stalk and hunt the prey. You will often see them motionless on a branch or a vine in the wild, waiting to spot something worth hunting and eating. This behavior usually makes them the ideal choice for many breeders.
Males tend to be more jittery and energetic since it’s in their nature to fly around and chase females. If you want a more sluggish mantis that loves taking pictures, you should go with a female. They also tend to live longer than the males and grow bigger and more impressive with time.
This is where the male has the upper hand on the female mantis. The male has longer and thicker antennae, while the female has shorter, thinner ones. In some species of mantids, the male’s antennae also come with feature-like follicles, giving the male a majestic look.
You should notice the change in antennae length and thickness during the nymph phase. This is when the mantis begins to get its gender characteristics more visible.
Unfortunately, cannibalism is quite widespread in the mantis species. What’s more disturbing is that it’s most noticeably female-to-male. Females tend to be fierce predators who won’t shy away from consuming prey as large or even larger than their bodies. This includes the male mantids.
This is why you can’t hold more than one mantis in the same enclosure, that is, if you want them both alive long-term. The female mantis is such a voracious creature that it will consume the male even during the mating process. This is why evolution has gifted male mantids with a lighter body and the ability to fly. They need to be able to get out of danger fast.
Despite how gruesome it may sound, this behavior is common in the insect world, including spiders. Many species of spiders also have larger and more ominous females, with the male measuring a fraction of the female’s body.
In many cases, the male will sacrifice its own body during the impregnation phase, allowing the female to eat it while he lays its seed.
This doesn’t happen with female mantids, which can kill and consume the male before the impregnation process even begins. To prevent that, you should approach the mating process with extreme care.
I recommend feeding the female right before introducing the male to calm her temper and appetite. In extreme cases, you can even throw her a meal while the mating is in mid-process.
Here’s a compelling summary to keep in mind of some of the most compelling differences between the male and female Praying mantis include:
- Abdominal Segments – The male has 8, while the female has 6. You should check them on the belly since they’re not visible from the back.
- Body Size and Shape – The male is thinner with a shorter body, while the female is longer, bulkier, and heavier. This is probably the most noticeable feature that differentiates the sexes.
- Wings and Flying – The female has shorter wings that are too weak to lift her heavy body. The male doesn’t have that problem since his wings are long, more than capable of sustaining his thin and light body. As a result, the male can fly, whereas the female can’t.
- Antennae – The male comes with longer and thicker antennae, while the female has shorter and thinner ones.
- Cannibalistic Behavior – The female can kill and eat the male whenever possible, including the mating period. You need to control this behavior by separating the two and feeding the female before placing the male in her enclosure for reproduction.
If you still have questions about the Praying mantis and its behavior, leave a comment below, and I will answer as soon as I can.Mantids