The Chinese mantis, Tenodera aridifolia, is native to Asia, particularly Japan, India, and Indonesia. It was introduced to the United States by humans in the late 1800s. It is now a common species throughout the United States, especially the eastern United States and California. Tenodera aridifolia is now found throughout most of Asia and has also been introduced into Australia. It is common in the Oriental and Nearctic regions. (Mazer, 2004; Hurd, et al., 2004; Jensen, et al., 2009)
Tenodera aridifolia is the most widespread and abundant mantis species in temperate zones. This species usually is found in grasslands, meadows, agricultural fields, woodlands, and adjacent to rivers and streams. It is common in humid habitats. The Chinese mantis inhabits a broad range of land in various stages of succession, most commonly in old-field ecosystems. It spends much of its time on herbaceous plants and woody shrubs and also can be found near flowers. (Beckman and Hurd, 2003; "Chinese Mantis", 2012; Maxwell, et al., 2010; Mazer, 2004; Watanabe, et al., 2011)
Tenodera aridifolia is approximately 7 cm in length and weighs an average of 3 grams. It has a tan, brown, or occasionally pale green cuticle, with the exposed edge of the forewings creating a green stripe on the side of the body. The head is triangular and can swivel a full 180 degrees, and it has very large eyes. Like all mantises, its first pair of legs is modified into a folded pair of arms that it uses to grab prey. Sexual dimorphism is prevalent in the Chinese mantis, with the females measuring 10 cm or more in length–about 2 cm longer than the males. ("Chinese Mantis", 2012; Iwasaki, 1996; Jensen, et al., 2009; Kaltenpoth, 2005; Maxwell, et al., 2010; Mazer, 2004)
Like all mantises, Tenodera aridifolia undergoes hemimetabolous development (incomplete metamorphosis). It progresses from an egg to the larval form (which is called a nymph), and then develops into an adult. Eggs are laid on plants in a case called an ootheca. The ootheca material is produced from a pair of accessory reproductive glands and originates as a froth before hardening to form a protective case. The eggs begin developing immediately after oviposition within the ootheca, until the cold weather triggers dormancy. The eggs overwinter until temperatures become warmer. Not including overwintering, eggs hatch after about 6 weeks of development in early spring. Nymphs go through up to 7 instars before developing wings and becoming adults in late summer. Adults reproduce and survive until the first frost. (Hurd, et al., 2004; Iwasaki, 1996; Lelito and Brown, 2008; Watanabe, et al., 2011; Yato, et al., 1990)
Male Chinese mantids mate repeatedly and fertilize multiple females when possible. Females also mate with multiple males, despite usually laying only one egg case, and eggs within a single case may have multiple fathers. To attract males, a female flexes her abdomen, which exposes her abdominal pheromone glands. Because only males fly, the males actively seek mates and are guided by long-distance pheromones from up to 100 m away. Males are more attracted to virgin females, suggesting that females decrease their pheromone emission and other behaviors after their first mating. When courting, males exhibit behaviors such as pumping their abdomens up and down and wiggling from side to side. They approach females directly from the front or from behind. Females also may approach males, although rarely, and actively participate in courtship, showing such behaviors as stroking the forelimbs of the male. (Lelito and Brown, 2006; Lelito and Brown, 2008; Maxwell, et al., 2010; Watanabe, et al., 2011)
Tenodera aridifolia is one species of mantis that strongly exhibits sexual cannibalism, wherein the female eats the male during or after copulation, often beheading him. Cannibalism is beneficial to the female because she can obtain food this way. When prey is scarce and females are hungrier, they are more likely to cannibalize their mate. Hungrier females will even make predatory strikes toward males before copulation occurs. It is likely due to the threat of cannibalism that when males approach females head on, they exhibit more cautious behaviors and move much more slowly than males approaching from behind. These differences in courting behavior according to risk level are thought to involve pheromones or behavioral indicators from the female.
Sexual cannibalism may provide some benefits to the male, as well. Males can continue copulating after they have been beheaded, though they cannot mount new females on their own. Cannibalism may result in prolonged copulation, ensuring an increased transfer of sperm and possibly preventing other males from mating with the female. (Lelito and Brown, 2006; Liske and Davis, 1987; Watanabe, et al., 2011)
Tenodera aridifolia is univoltine and semelparous. The Chinese mantis begins mating 8 to 10 days after its final molt, in late summer or early fall. It can continue breeding until it dies during the first frost, usually in late fall. Female Chinese mantids usually lay only one ootheca, but the mantids farther south can produce multiple egg cases if the temperatures remain high enough later in the year. A single ootheca can contain anywhere from 50 to several hundred eggs. If a female produces multiple oothecae, she can lay around 600 eggs during the breeding season. Females produce smaller egg cases when prey is a limiting resource, but those species that cannibalize their mates (including T. aridifolia) lay larger oothecae and produce more offspring. Oothecae can weigh up to 1.5 g, half the weight of the females, indicating a significant energy investment. Eggs overwinter and hatch in the spring. More males are usually born than females, though this ratio is reversed later in life by sexual cannibalism. (Hurd, et al., 2004; Jensen, et al., 2009; Lelito and Brown, 2006; Lelito and Brown, 2008; Liske and Davis, 1987; Watanabe, et al., 2011)
Parental care of Tenodera aridifolia is limited to the female creation of the protective ootheca in which the eggs can safely develop prior to hatching. Females provide a significant energy investment in carrying the eggs and creating the ootheca, which they lay on plants in locations where conditions will prevent desiccation. After the eggs are laid, the adults provide no further care or protection. Males either leave or are killed after mating and provide no care. Since Chinese mantids die when the first frost occurs, they cannot provide any parental care for the nymphs that will hatch the following spring. (Iwasaki, 1996; Lelito and Brown, 2008)
Tenodera aridifolia generally can be expected to live 6 to 9 months in the wild. Eggs hatch in the early spring when temperatures warm up, and adults die during the first frost. Since its birth and death are largely dependent on environmental temperatures, its lifespan can vary by latitude. The highest mortality rates occur just after T. aridifolia hatches in the spring, before arthropod prey becomes abundant. About 90% of the Chinese mantis nymphs die before reaching adulthood. They are especially prone to desiccation. Since prey often can be scarce in the home range of T. aridifolia, nymphs and adults often die from starvation. The male population and lifespan are significantly reduced due to sexual cannibalism by females. (Hurd, et al., 2004; Iwasaki, 1996; Lelito and Brown, 2008)
Tenodera aridifolia is a ferocious solitary predator, and many studies have investigated its complex hunting behavior. The large eyes of T. aridifolia allow it to hunt prey primarily by vision, a tactic enhanced by its ability to swivel its head in any direction (fully 180 degrees).
Chinese mantids also can detect immobile prey by olfaction. The hunting strategy of the adults is to perch motionless atop tall plants, grasses, or in tree branches–ideally, any place with a clear view of the surroundings. As potential prey moves past (anything from other insects to small birds), T. aridifolia quickly darts out in a lunge and grabs the prey with its folded arms. The prey collides with the femoral spines of the mantis forearms, and then the mantis tibias close to grasp the prey. Mantises hold their prey in their forearms while they feed, and the prey may still be alive as the mantis begins to eat.
Tenodera aridifolia is mostly flightless, though males fly short distances occasionally. Females do not fly, despite having wings. These mantids do not pursue aerial prey, but by waiting among tall plants, they can use their modified front legs to grab or spear the prey that flies past. Chinese mantids are active mostly during the day. (Beckman and Hurd, 2003; "Chinese Mantis", 2012; Hurd, et al., 2004; Mazer, 2004; Prete, et al., 2011; Yamawaki, 2011)
Because only the male Tenodera aridifolia can fly, and then only a limited distance, its territory mainly is restricted to the distance that both the males and females walk. It is generally safe to assume that an ootheca found at least 2 to 2.5 km away from another ootheca was laid by a different female. It is estimated that the territory for T. aridifolia is about 4 km^2; however, territories likely overlap. (Hurd, et al., 2004; Watanabe, et al., 2011)
Like all mantids, Tenodera aridifolia has high visual acuity. It detects other mantids and its prey visually. It has strong tracking abilities, due to its large eyes and the mobility of its head. Adult females emit pheromones that are detected by males looking for mates, likely through receptors on the antennae of the males. Some tactile communication has been observed between males and females during courtship, such as the female stroking the raptorial forelimbs of the male. Nymphs also have been observed using their antennae to detect pollen grains, likely through a combination of tactile and chemical sensing. Adults can detect immobile prey by olfaction. (Beckman and Hurd, 2003; Liske and Davis, 1987; Maxwell, et al., 2010; Prete, et al., 2011; Yamawaki, 2011)
Tenodera aridifolia is a generalist predator. It usually eats anything it can catch, preferring other arthropods (particularly insects and spiders). Adult females have been known to catch small reptiles, amphibians, and the occasional hummingbird. Their prey is limited only by what they can catch. Chinese mantis nymphs will eat pollen to survive in times of low prey availability, while adults will eat pollinator insects that are covered in pollen, also ingesting the pollen. Adults will sometimes eat solely pollen in times of limited prey. (Beckman and Hurd, 2003; "Chinese Mantis", 2012; Hurd, et al., 2004; Prete, et al., 2011)
Tenodera aridifolia is prey to a variety of animals, including reptiles, birds, and primates. When faced with a bird or lizard predator, T. aridifolia exhibits defensive behavior and posture, including a display called the deimatic response. The display includes elevating the prothorax and raising the wings, extending the back legs to the side, twisting the abdomen, and swaying violently from side to side. The Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarina, also has been known to prey on Chinese mantids, though the mantids can fight back and often instead prey on the hornets. (Balderrama and Maldonado, 1971; Handwerk, 2012; Yamawaki, 2011)
Tenodera aridifolia is a fierce predatory species. It has the potential to significantly affect other arthropod populations and can sufficiently keep prey populations in check. While adult female Chinese mantids often catch small vertebrates, they are unlikely to catch enough to influence vertebrate population size.
As an introduced species, T. aridifolia competes with other mantis species in the United States and can threaten native mantis populations. ("Chinese Mantis", 2012; Handwerk, 2012; Hurd, et al., 2004; Yamawaki, 2011)
Tenodera aridifolia was introduced to the United States by humans in 1896 as a form of pest control. Today, Chinese mantids can still be purchased to reduce pest populations in gardens or agricultural fields. They can also be kept as pets, as they are mostly harmless to humans and very easy to care for. They can be kept in a medium- to large-sized aquarium and can be fed live insects every other day or so. Ootheca (egg cases) are available for purchase in pet or gardening stores. ("Chinese Mantis", 2012; Hurd, et al., 2004)
If provoked, Tenodera aridifolia can bite or pinch a human being. Usually, it will focus on prey items and ignore humans, and it can even be handled without concern. Harm to humans is very rare but possible. ("Chinese Mantis", 2012)
Angela Miner (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff, Elizabeth Wason (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
fertilization takes place within the female's body
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
breeding is confined to a particular season
offspring are all produced in a single group (litter, clutch, etc.), after which the parent usually dies. Semelparous organisms often only live through a single season/year (or other periodic change in conditions) but may live for many seasons. In both cases reproduction occurs as a single investment of energy in offspring, with no future chance for investment in reproduction.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
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