Monday, April 9, 2012

Hatchling predators

One of the many species we are breeding at the moment are the rainforest mantids, Hierodula majuscula. Females are very large and extremely robust, growing up to around 70mm in body length.

For the size of the mantis, this species actually produces a relatively modestly sized ootheca, but it is very tough and affords the eggs quite a bit of protection from opportunistic scavengers. Despite the hardness, many laid in the wild succumb to tiny parasitic wasps which deposit their own eggs deep inside the mantis ootheca using a hair-like ovipositor.

Most H.majuscula oothecae hatch around 40 days after the female produces them. Our most recent hatching consisted of over 100 tiny mantids. They emerge as vermiform (worm-like) larvae and moult almost immediately into 1st instar nymphs.

The vermiform larvae wriggle out of the ootheca and moult while suspended into the first instar nymph.

Like all mantids they are predatory and have a ravenous appetite. Some of our little hatchlings are now up to their 4th instar within their first month of life, and have made the dietary step up from drosophila fruit flies to small cockroaches.

A 3rd instar nymph posing for the camera

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