Sexual Cannibalism! Female Praying Mantis Devours Her Partner

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Image: Oliver Koemmerling

Imagine every time you made love to your partner you were dicing with imminent death. It might make you wary of having sex ever again (if you survived, that is!), yet male praying mantises can never be sure they will survive the sex act owing to their partners’ natural predatory instinct. Imagine this was part of our life cycle! Sexual cannibalism is a natural phenomenon whereby one organism (generally the female) eats the other (typically the male) before, during or right after sex. This amazing sequence of photographs shows a female praying mantis eating her lover – starting with this shot of Mrs Mantis munching on the male’s leg. Looks like a nice appetizer!


Image: Oliver Koemmerling

This pic gives new meaning to the term ‘necking’! The female praying mantis often begins her coital dinner by biting off her lover’s head – frequently while he is still inside her! This ‘head first’ approach is also the one mantises take when hunting regular prey. But when it’s part of procreation? Talk about killing the mood!

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Image: Oliver Koemmerling

Once the head is bitten off, the male’s movements become more active and energetic. This results in a more vigorous and, one would surmise, more abundant and perhaps deeper delivery of sperm. Here, the female is eating her partner’s eye!

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