Or images. Or analogies. Or something.
Remember how we've been told forever that the female praying mantis bites the head off her mate after sex? As if to drive home the fact that women are fierce and feisty and aggressive and strong and have no use for men other than their own sexual gratification and...sorry. Got a little caught up there. Ahem.
Turns out it's bogus science. The original experiment? "Placing them in the same jar, the male, in alarm, endeavoured to escape. In a few minutes the female succeeded in grasping him. She first bit off his front tarsus, and consumed the tibia and femur. Next she gnawed out his left eye...it seems to be only by accident that a male ever escapes alive from the embraces of his partner" Leland Ossian Howard, Science, 1886
One fact was left out. The damned things had been starved. And as much as we might all aspire to a slender figure, girl's gotta eat.
New experiments on far more bugs have found it just isn't true. "In nature, mating usually takes place under cover, so rather than leaning over the tank studying their every move, we left them alone and videotaped what happened. We were amazed at what we saw. Out of thirty matings, we didn't record one instance of cannibalism, and instead we saw an elaborate courtship display, with both sexes performing a ritual dance, stroking each other with their antennae before finally mating. It really was a lovely display". (7) There is one species, however, the Mantis religiosa, in which it is necessary that the head be removed for the mating to take effect properly. (5) Sexual cannibalism occurs most often if the female is hungry. But eating the head does causes the body to ejaculate faster."(all quotes at link)
So. What have we here? A 'lovely display'. Huh. And only one drama mama species. The 'religiosa' one. Who apparently just wants it over with sooner, and rips his head off to speed things up. Can you imagine being a male from another praying mantis species and accidentally hitting if off with a female religiosa? Exchange texts, friend each other, make one booty call and presto! Dad never warned you about that. But the fact this girl - and none of her friends - have Dads should have been a warning, no?
It appears our other little praying mantis tarts have found the best of all worlds: getting what they want, with the little threat of instant death always handy to keep things moving along in a lovely way.
Labels: praying mantis sex