Biologists have witnessed the unusual behavior of a male Central Asian mantis ( Hierodula tenuidentata ) , who successfully hunted guppies ( Poecilia reticulata ), fishing them out of the water. As reported in the Journal of Orthoptera Research , in five days the mantis caught nine fish.
Mantis mostly hunt other insects, although researchers have repeatedly recorded how they attacked small vertebrates: lizards, frogs, snakes, mice. Recently, scientists conducted a meta-study and described how mantis hunting for birds the size of themselves, in particular, hummingbirds and passerines.
In a new study, Indian biologists Rajesh Puttaswamaiah and Nayak Manjunath, as well as Italian explorer Roberto Battiston, described how a Central Asian tree mantis ( Hierodula tenuidentata ) was hunting guppies. This type of mantis lives in Central Asia and India. Males reach 5-6 centimeters in length, females are larger, up to nine centimeters. H. tenuidentata are very voracious and can hunt prey twice as big as themselves.
Scientists watched a 5.6 centimeter male, who lived in a garden on the roof of a private house in southwestern India. The hosts arranged a pond in the garden, in which they launched more than 30 guppy fish – popular aquarium fish, which reach a length of 4-7 centimeters. In addition, water lilies and pistia (water lettuce) grew in the pond. The authors of the article noticed that for five days in March 2017, from 18.30 to 12.30 the following day, the praying mantis climbed onto the leaves of aquatic plants and from there grabbed fish. Most often, he began to eat more live fish from the tail. In the first four days he caught two fish at intervals of 10-30 minutes, on the fifth day he caught one fish, and then disappeared and the researchers did not see him again.
The authors note that mantises usually hunt in the daytime (although sometimes males are more active at night), their vision is adapted to the daylight and they respond to the movement of the victim. But the male mantis mantis, for which they observed, fished always after sunset, sometimes at night, in conditions of poor visibility. Therefore, in the future it is worth exploring in detail the vision of these insects.
Mantis hunt not only for a variety of prey, it is well known that they are also cannibals. Often females during or immediately after mating bite a partner and, thus, increase the chances of their offspring to survive. Therefore, males prefer to mate with females who have just had lunch.