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|Immature Empusa pennata|
Empusa pennata, common names conehead mantis in English and mantis palo in Spanish, is a species of praying mantis in genus Empusa. It can be found in Spain and parts of Portugal, France, Lebanon,Central and Southern Italy and Greece.
Empusa pennata generally has large and thin body along with a great flying apparatus by their pair of wings and light body mass. Also, they are mostly found in perennial herbs and scrubs. There are three ways for insects to find mates: chemical, acoustic, and visual signals. Cryptic coloration is significant to some predatory insects like Mantids, which is used to protect themselves from predators and to capture their prey.
Nocturnal pheromone release
However, insects that depend on vision will hinder to find their mate because they will be undetectable to each other. Therefore, as an alternative way to find mates, sex pheromone is used. The releasing of sex pheromone by Empusa pennata is an adaption derived from sexual selection.
Mantids stalk their prey and pounce on it, grasping it with their raptorial forelegs. Only living prey is selected and it is consumed directly after the catch. The predator orients itself optically, and therefore only takes notice of moving prey. The maximum size of prey which mantids can overwhelm is species-specific and depends on the prey type. On average mantids eat crickets of 50% their own body weight while cockroaches can weigh up to 110%
- Gemeno C, Claramunt J, Dasca J. 2004. Nocturnal Calling Behavior in Mantids. Journal of Insect Behavior 18(3):389-403
- Nentwig W, Reitze M. 1991. Comparative investigation into the feeding ecology of six Mantodea species. Oecologia 86(4):568-574
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