This mantis, believed to be a Carolina Mantis, is one of the most common Mantis species seen in North America. The praying mantis are incredible creatures in many ways, most noticeably in their anatomy. Equipped with five eyes, two compound and 3 simple, they have excellent vision with the ability to rotate their heads 180 degrees. They feed on a variety of insects, which are grasped with claw like forelegs, which are often held in a praying position, lending to the mantis name. As the mantis grows in size so does the size of prey captured up to and including small birds like hummingbirds.
Egg cases often appearing as a brown rectangle found on plants or on the side of buildings are capable of hatching over one hundred offspring. After emergence hatchlings dry and then disperse. At one time or another most people have seen a mantis, and have heard stories of their behaviors, most notorious is the behavior of cannibalistic mating.
The Carolina Mantis, pictured above is just one species of mantis documented exhibiting the display of such behavior. This bizarre behavior is one that catches the attentions of many viewers and is hard to at times fathom. Segmental ganglions are located throughout the praying mantis, each ganglion acts as a control center for functions, and each ganglion cluster communicates with other clusters. Signals are sent, received and blocked by one command center to another. Communication is transmitted in an orderly fashion, the brain still being the overall control center. When connection between the brain and segmental ganglions is severed, say by the female consuming the male’s head during mating, the ability to send, receive and block signals is lost. Until the entire head is removed, the ganglion will still exhibit behavior previously blocked by the brain. During mating in which the male is consumed, the behavior this can be seen; the male mantis jerking his body side to side in a circular motion with movement in the abdomen. Because some movement is still allowed despite being consumed, mating can still precede and complete mating under these conditions. The nerve ganglia are in charge of mating once the brain is consumed!