I’ve mentioned that I had a pair of photography goals – regarding the mantids, at least; I have a few dozen photography goals overall. But with the mantids, there was a) mating, and b) laying the eggs, and as of this afternoon and evening, I can scratch one of those off the list.
Sorry, I should have given you more warning before popping that image up like that. But this is a pair of the Chinese mantises (Tenodera sinensis) in the first stages of mating. Nothing is actually going on here, in more ways than one, since they were almost entirely immobile. I checked on them a couple of times during the day, finding on a latter observation that the female was almost foraging, seeming to nibble on a leaf in front of her (which was odd, since they eat only insects.) But no real action. This was taken a little after 1 PM.
Then I left them alone for a while, not returning until after 8 PM, and they’d disappeared, or so it initially seemed. I examined the vines cluster that they’d been on, finding it unlikely that they would have gone far, and eventually unearthed them deeper in the foliage. By this point I was using the headlamp to look, which is good, because it would have been much harder to spot them by daylight. This time, however, it was clear they were doing the deed. Closing the deal. Springing for the extended warranty. If you know what I’m saying.
That does look incredibly awkward, but they may be like a lot of teens that believe porn is realistic and have to try out the acrobatic stuff. Or maybe this is normal – you’re asking the wrong guy (like that hasn’t been obvious.) Anyway, that’s one step closer. I may have to do a little research (for a change) and see how long it’ll be before she’s ready to produce an ootheca, the technical term for their egg sac. I admit to some mixed feelings here, since this cluster of vines on an unwanted sapling were going to be removed in the winter, unless she does actually put the ootheca there, but then again, if she wanders off to find a different location for the sac, that makes it less likely that I’ll be there when it’s happening. I can’t watch her 24/7 to track her movements – I have to make posts from time to time, and occasionally eat something as well.
By the way, the male still retained his head at this point, though it was hard to photograph this for proof, given their new location under the leaves, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Actually, the female consuming the male during or after copulation doesn’t really happen often at all, provoked more by captivity than by habit. But I’ll keep trying to check on him anyway.
UPDATE: Out just a little later on, I eventually located the female and the male, well separated but on the same cluster of vines, so everything’s kosher. Couldn’t tell if either of them had that ‘glow’ or not…