Following our work on the sexual cannibalism literature last year we are now branching out into actually studying a sexually cannibalistic animal. In this case preying mantids! As always when embarking on the study of an exiting new species, our first step was to work out how to keep them in the lab. Thankfully preying mantids are popular pets and husbandry information is easily available for many species. We’ve decide upon Sphodromantis viridis or the African Giant Mantid as our study species (a decision that may or may not come back to haunt us as we grapple with their large size and long life-span). One benefit of this species is it is commonly advertised as a ‘beginner species’ and that I have actually kept them in the past.
So back in February I tracked down my old supplier and bought three 3-4th instar nymphs just to check that my planned set-up would work. The three were a big hit and quickly took to their new homes (converted innocent veg pots) and new diet (spare Nasonia and Drosophila). We named them Voracious, Rapacious and Suicide; names that may seem familiar to those of you who read our last paper!
In the months since they arrived all three have shed and grown considerably. They are now joined by 5 other nymphs, from a variety of sources, who should (with a bit of luck and a decent sex ratio) form the basis of our breeding colony. So far we’ve had only on death and I suspect that was from the stress of being posted during the glorious snow of Scottish “spring”. Hopefully all our mantids will continue to grow so I can spam this site with photos of them instead of actually writing blog posts.