The Praying Mantis, Sphodramantis Sp. as a Predator of the Giant Looper, Ascotis Selenaria Reciprocaria Walk In Kenya Coffee: Laboratory Evaluation

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Abassa, R.O.
Mathenge, W.M.
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Mantids are general predators and will feed on almost any insect smaller than themselves. Among the preferred food are flies, grasshoppers and caterpillars. Larger mantids are, in addition, cannibalistic on the smaller mantids. It is probably due to this behavior that mantids are usually solitary, staying motionle5S for a long time while waiting for an unsuspecting potential prey to come close. Their eggs are laid in specially constructed egg pods (oothecae) which are attached to twigs, bark or other objects (Plate I). It is common to find oothecae attached to coffee tree stems, branches and twigs. When mantids are reared in the laboratory, however, oothecae are glued to the walls of cages. On opening an ootheca, eggs are found arranged in rows and enveloped in a firm spongy substance. The incubation period varies with each species. Those of Sphodromantis viridis Forst hatch in 20-25 days under laboratory conditions (25 -+- 1°C, 65 ± 5 per cent R.H.). The number of nymphs from a single ootheca varies with the species but is often greater than 25. Development to adult stage is rather slow and may be prolonged to 12 months in some European species. Our laboratory observations, although incomplete, show that S. viridis undergoes at least six moults before becoming adult. Each stadium (the period between moults in a developing insect) occupies 16-19 days.
East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal, XXXVII (2), pp. 177-180