We knew that the Praying Mantis could be terrifying; and that the male’s own head is part of the female’s diet (although it was capable of mating without the trunk). Now we know how the male has been able to survive in time.
Because in addition to literally losing his mind on dating, the male has another problem when it comes to the Springbok mantis family; the female has the ability to reproduce asexually or without the help of males. In other words, they can produce clones of themselves if they don’t mate.
So if females eat suitors and can even reproduce without sex, how on earth have males survived?
In the study, published in Biology Letters, the researchers found that 60 percent of sexual encounters between Springboks end in the males losing their minds. According to Nathan Burke; an entomologist at the University of Auckland and an expert on mantis mating rituals:
Males play Russian roulette whenever they encounter cannibalistic females. All male mantises show extreme caution when approaching a potential mate. Hard to blame them.
However, while most will sneak up behind or distract the female, they found that the Springbok has a completely different strategy that was not known until now. According to Burke:
Praying Mantis survival tactics
Under the threat of a cannibal attack, the males attempt to subdue the females by immobilizing them in violent fights. In this way, males who win the fight are more likely to achieve consummation of the relationship; suggesting that the fight is both a mating tactic and a survival tactic.
If the male was faster, he has a 78 percent chance of escaping unscathed. Not only that; but they also found that the male occasionally inflicted a serious but non-fatal injury to the female’s abdomen. For Burke:
I was very surprised to discover that males injure females when trying to subdue them for mating. Nothing like this has ever been observed in mantises before.
The researcher ends his work by explaining that; “it is a fascinating example of how sexual conflict can lead to the evolution of mating tactics that help one sex, but hinder the other”.