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Table of Contents
excludeAsian Ant Mantis
Life Cycle of Praying Mantids

Praying mantids are holometabolous insects, in which they undergo three main life stages: egg, nymphs, adults.  This is in contrast to holometabolous insects that have four life stages.


Similar to cockroaches, praying mantids lay their individual eggs in egg cases termed as ootheca.  Each ootheca is a huge investment by a single female because she invests in multiple offspring in one sitting.  The ootheca functions as a shield from environmental stressors such as temperature fluctuations and water damage


. Many mantids tend to lay on solid surfaces such as branches and stems. But due to the built up environment Singapore has, a lot of urban-adapted species lay their ooths on surfaces like railings, walls, and windows (personal observation).

Morphology if of ootheca have been known to have the potential for species delimitation, if not higher level taxa, due to the variation between different species


Morphology of oothecae differs between mantids, images not to scale. (Images by: Tiffany Lum)

The emergence area is the location at which the nymphs will hatch from, and this area varies between different types of oothecae too.  During emergence, nymphs hang from strings that originate from emergence areas, and the nymphs gradually wiggle to free themselves.


Hatching process in an unidentified species (left) and in Rhombodera sp. (Images by: Tiffany Lum)

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Hatching process in Hymenopus coronatus. Obtained from YouTube under Fair Use guidelines.


Although juvenile morphology is extremely important, it has been neglected in a lot of studies.  Many mantids look like ants during early nymphal stages.  As juveniles are also carnivorous and cannibalistic, as they prey on other arthropods and even their own kind.  Hence, they do have the same ecological significance as adults and deserve just as much attention in research that adults do.


But there are also some early instars that don't mimic ants. Featuring nymphs of: Tropidomantis sp. (upper left), Leptomantella sp. (upper middle), Hierodula sp. (lower left & right), Deroplatys sp. (lower right). (Images by: Tiffany Lum)


The number of moults taken to reach adulthood differs greatly between species, ranging from 5 to more than 10 (personal observation). The lifespan of adults also differ greatly between species.  However, females tend to have longer lifespans than males in most species, but there are a number of exceptions


. Praying mantids also differ greatly in size (from less than 1cm as adults to 12cm) and not all species have wings that extend to the tip of their abdomen. Adult females are also able to store sperm from a single mating, to fertilise multiple oothecae.  Contrary to popular belief, sexual cannibalism does not occur all the time (personal observations).