In college, my husband had a friend who was studying entomology. At a party, his wife was telling me about their wonderful honeymoon in the tropics. She got to lay on the beach and watch their stuff while he went into the woods to catch bugs. I love entomologists. What other profession attracts people who are so smart and so reverent towards some of Mother Nature's most grotesque creations?
Tonight's topic in my Master Gardener program was Entomology. We were enlightened by another passionate and engaging speaker who has again changed the way I see the world. I took copious notes and intended to pass some information along to you, but I don't think I would be able to explain these facts in as interesting a way as an entomologist could directly.
I will just pass along an interesting tidbit and pose one question to you - as we students pondered in class today. You've heard that the female praying mantis will bite off the head of the male praying mantis, right? WHY do you think this is? I mean, evolutionarily-thinking, biologically-thinking, why? I would love to hear your guesses and I will reveal the answer in the body of this post on Friday.
Photo courtesy of Adamantios, Wikipedia
Now, off to think pleasant thoughts before bed...
Edited to add: fortunately, there have been no insect nightmares. Apparently there are several theories as to why the female praying mantis will cannibalize the male. What often happens is that the female will bite off and eat the male's head DURING sex. In Mike Raupp's lab, one female went straight in for the kill, biting the male right in half through the middle. Another male had several successful conquests and kept his head. I'm not sure anyone really knows the real answer to my question posted earlier this week, but here's the theory I learned Tuesday night: After sex, the praying mantis turns her attention to laying eggs, requiring great amounts of protein. The largest source of protein? The head. You'd think that anything with brains would learn to stay away from something that will probably bite your head off during sex. Well, if you had a little brain in your head, a little brain in your mid-section, and a little brain in your sex appendage, you'd keep going back for more (I guess I could insert a Tiger Woods joke here, but the man's apologized - perhaps I'll leave him alone for now).