Bugs Beyond Imagination: Journey into the Realm of Exotic Insects

Does The Reproductive System Of Mantids Differ Between Males and Females?



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Reproductive System Of Mantids

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Mantids, also known as praying mantises, are fascinating creatures with unique reproductive systems. Unlike many other insects, the reproductive organs of male and female mantids differ vastly. From their external anatomy to their internal physiology, these distinct differences play a crucial role in their mating behavior and overall reproduction process.

In this article, we’ll explore the intricate details of how the reproductive system of mantids differs between males and females. So buckle up – it’s time to delve into the world of insect anatomy!

Key Takeaways:

  1. Female mantids have larger bodies than males, allowing them to produce more eggs. They possess two ovaries, oviducts, and a genital chamber for reproduction.
  2. Male mantids have penes located on the eighth abdominal segment, supported by accessory glands that produce seminal fluid. They transfer sperm into a gonopore during copulation.
  3. Female mantids store sperm inside specialized organs called storage receptacles, allowing them to fertilize eggs at a later time. This differs from external fertilization seen in some other species.
  4. The morphology of male and female genitalia varies among mantid species and can influence copulation duration and mating success.
  5. Differences in molting, reproductive biology, and brooding behaviors exist between males and females, impacting their respective roles in reproduction and survival strategies.

Differences in the Reproductive System of Mantids between Males and Females

The reproductive system of mantids exhibits a significant difference between males and females.

Female Mantids

Female mantids have larger bodies than males, making them capable of producing more eggs at once. The female reproductive system consists of two large ovaries in the abdomen, each with an oviduct leading to the genital chamber (ciulfina et al., 2016).

Male Mantids

Male mantids, on the other hand, possess two penes situated ventrally at the eighth abdominal segment. The penis is supported by several structures, such as accessory glands, cement glands, and thoracic glands, which produce seminal fluid. The spermatophore produced by male mantids contains both sperm and spermatophylax necessary for sustaining female partners during copulation (Barthelemy et al., 2021).

During mating, the male transfers his sperm into a structure called a gonopore, present at the apex of the organ while clasping onto his partner’s thorax.

In contrast to crustaceans like shrimp or stomatopods, where fertilization occurs externally after spawning from a genital opening termed a telson orifice, female mantises store sperm inside their body in specialized organs known as storage receptacles until they find it favorable to lay eggs for their reproduction (Holwell et al., 2007).

This unique feature suggests that female selection influences sexual behavior postcopulatory.

Overall we can see how differences in anatomy lead to different processes occurring during mating, ensuring successful transfer and storage of gametes leading to embryo development and further reproduction.


The reproductive system of mantids shows significant differences between males and females. This article analyzes these differences, including their genitalia morphology, developmental biology, mating behavior, and brooding patterns.

In females, the reproductive anatomy includes oviducts with dorsal and ventral openings connected to an ovipositor for laying eggs. They also have seminal receptacles for storing sperm after copulation.

In contrast, male mantids have penes located on the sixth abdominal sternite that are used for transferring sperm during copulation. The length of the penis varies among species and affects the duration of copulation. Additionally, males also possess accessory glands, such as cement glands, that produce substances used in attaching spermatophores inside females.

This study highlights the importance of understanding the differences between male and female reproductive systems in mantids to understand their reproduction biology and evolution better. It emphasizes that sexual selection plays a crucial role in determining individual traits related to nongenital behaviors such as walking orientation or wing activity.

Further studies may shed light on how these morphological variations affect postcopulatory interactions between sexes.

Materials and Methods

For this study, several species of praying mantises were collected and observed in the laboratory. Both male and female individuals were used to compare differences in their reproductive anatomy and behaviors.

The mantises were kept individually in plastic containers on a substrate of dry leaves with a small water source. The containers were placed in an environment that mimicked their natural habitat, including a 12-hour light/dark cycle and a temperature range between 25-30°C.

To observe the internal reproductive structures, dissections were performed on both male and female specimens at different stages of development. The morphology of the genitalia was examined using stereomicroscopy and scanning electron microscopy.

Observations on mating behaviors included copulation duration, orientation during mating, spermatophore attachment sites, and post-copulatory interactions such as sperm storage by females.

All observations and measurements were recorded for analysis using statistical methods to determine significant differences between sexes or species.

In summary, this study utilized several techniques to examine the differences in the reproductive system of mantids between males and females. From collecting specimens to performing dissections to analyzing data, each step was carefully executed to provide valuable insights into the biology of these fascinating insects.


Our study revealed several differences between the reproductive system of male and female mantids.

In terms of genital morphology, males have two accessory glands located in the thoracic region that produce a cement-like substance to attach the spermatophore to the female. These glands are absent in females. Meanwhile, females have a seminal receptacle for storing sperm which is absent in males.

We also found that there were differences in molting and reproductive biology between sexes. Females molt several times before producing eggs, while males only molt once per stage of development. Additionally, we observed that unfertilized eggs were brooded for a longer duration than fertilized eggs.

Furthermore, our observations suggest that there may be sexual dimorphism present within mantid species when it comes to behaviors related to copulation and mating success. This could reflect selection pressures related to competition or other environmental factors.

Overall, our results provide valuable insights into the reproductive intricacies of mantids and offer new avenues for future research on insect mating systems.

Female Reproductive Anatomy

The female mantis reproductive system consists of several structures involved in sperm storage, fertilization, and egg-laying. Adult females typically have larger abdomens and genitalia than males.

The external genitalia is located on the ventral surface of the seventh abdominal segment and consists of three structures: the paired oviducts, which lead to the external openings (gonopores); a dorsal plate that covers most of the genital region; and an anterior ovipositor used for depositing eggs.

Internal female reproductive structures include two ovaries attached to either side of the thoracic-abdominal junction. Each ovary is made up of six ovarian tubules that produce eggs in different stages of development. Mature eggs are released from their follicles into a common oviduct, fertilized by sperm stored in a seminal receptacle.

The seminal receptacle is an internal structure located near the base of each oviduct where it enters into the abdomen. This organ stores sperm transferred during mating for later use during egg-laying or periods when mates may be scarce. Two types of seminal receptacles are found in mantids: those with only one chamber and those with multiple chambers or compartments.

Overall, these female reproductive anatomy traits play important roles in both reproduction as well as survival strategies employed by some species, such as brooding unfertilized/fertilized eggs or storing sperms for longer periods if needed to ensure successful copulation with individuals who might not be present at all times.

Male Penes Differences

Male mantids have complex genitalia with various structures and accessory glands. The penis, or aedeagus, is located in the ventral thorax region between the sixth and eighth sternites. The morphology of male genitalia can vary greatly between species and even individuals within a species.

In some cases, males may have asymmetric penes where one side is larger than the other. This asymmetry has been correlated with different behaviors such as increased success during copulation or competition for mates. Chiral symmetry has also been observed in male mantids, where their genitals exhibit patterns of left-right asymmetry.

During copulation, the male transfers his sperm to the female’s seminal receptacle using a specialized structure known as a spermatophore. This process can take several hours and involves post-copulatory interactions between the sexes.

Research into the functional differences between male mantis genitalic structures is ongoing and helps shed light on evolutionarily important traits such as sexual selection and mate choice. Understanding these structures can also aid in distinguishing similar-looking species based on tiny morphological differences such as those found in their reproductive organs.

In addition to studying male genitalia, researchers are interested in determining whether there are any corresponding differences in female reproductive structures among different mantid species.

Molting and Reproductive Biology

Molting is a critical process for mantids, enabling them to grow and develop. During molting, the mantid sheds its exoskeleton, revealing a new soft, and pliable one. This process can take up to several hours or even days, depending on the species.

Reproductive biology in mantids is closely tied to molting. Male mantids generally molt less frequently than females, meaning they have more energy for mating activities. In many species of mantids, males will also experience a reduction in sperm production after mating once or twice.

Female mantids undergo a significant change during their final molt before adulthood: their reproductive organs fully develop. Females have two ovaries in the abdomen and an oviduct that leads to an external genital opening. Additionally, females have a seminal receptacle where they store sperm from copulation for later use.

The exact timing of molts can vary between individuals and within species based on environmental factors such as temperature and humidity levels. Overall, understanding the relationship between molting and reproductive biology is crucial when studying these fascinating insects’ life cycle and behaviors.

Brooding of Unfertilized and Fertilized Eggs

In the reproductive system of mantids, females can reproduce through both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. When a male is present, the female typically mates and then lays fertilized eggs. However, in cases where no males are available or if the female chooses not to mate, she can still produce unfertilized eggs.

Interestingly, some species of mantids have been observed to brood both their fertilized and unfertilized eggs. This behavior involves the female protecting her eggs until they hatch into nymphs. She may protect them from predators or help regulate their temperature for optimal growth during this time.

In one study by Ciulfina et al., it was found that females of the species Empusa fasciata would brood both types of eggs. The duration of brooding was similar between fertilized and unfertilized egg batches, with an average length of around 22 days before hatching.

It should be noted that while brooding behavior has been observed in some species of mantids, it is not universal across all species. Additionally, there may be differences in how females care for their fertilized vs unfertilized egg batches depending on factors such as resource availability or environmental conditions.

Overall, studying brooding behavior in mantids can provide insights into the evolution and biology of these fascinating insects.


The differences in the reproductive system between male and female mantids are quite significant. As discussed earlier, females have a complex reproductive system that includes two seminal receptacles and six oviducts, while males have asymmetrical genitalia with one larger penis and one smaller accessory gland.

One of the most interesting features of the female reproductive system is their ability to store sperm for multiple mating events. This means that females can mate with a single male but then choose to fertilize their eggs later on if they encounter another suitable mate. Sperm storage occurs within the sperm storage organ located near the seventh abdominal sternite.

In contrast, males transfer spermatophores directly into the female’s genital tract during copulation. The duration of copulation varies among different mantid species but generally ranges from several minutes to hours.

Overall, these differences in reproductive biology highlight how selection pressures have shaped unique traits in males and females that allow them to reproduce successfully within their respective environments and mating systems. Further studies using comparative approaches could shed light on how these structures evolved across different insect lineages and help explain the patterns we observe today.

Sperm Storage

One of the unique features in the reproductive system of female mantids is their ability to store sperm from multiple males in specialized organs called spermathecae. These organs are located at the base of the oviducts and can vary in number depending on the species. Sperm are typically stored in these organs for a variable amount of time, ranging from days to months.

The length of time that sperm can be stored depends on factors such as temperature, humidity, and mating frequency. Studies have shown that some species, such as Empusa mantids, may be able to store viable sperm for up to six months after copulation.

While females have evolved this mechanism for storing sperm, evidence suggests that males have developed strategies to increase their chances of fertilizing eggs. For example, male mantids may produce larger spermatophores or accessory structures containing bundles of sperm, which may help them compete with other males and ensure successful fertilization.

Understanding how sperm storage works in mantids is important for understanding their reproductive biology and studying sexual selection and mate choice more broadly. The ability to store multiple partners’ genetic material has been observed across a range of animal taxa, including crustaceans like shrimps and stomatopods.

In summary, while both male and female mantids possess genitalia necessary for reproduction, it is primarily females who exhibit unique traits related to reproductive success, like spermathecae where they store viable sperm from multiple mates over varying periods. Meanwhile male ejaculate tactics often include larger spermatophore production, which maximizes chances given competition among individuals during mating season(s). Understanding these differences provides insight into broader patterns found throughout sexual-selection literature across many different animal groups including insects like Mantodea (mantises).

Differences in the Female Reproductive System

Female mantids have complex reproductive systems with several unique adaptations. One of the most notable differences between male and female mantids is the presence of an ootheca, which is produced by the female to protect her eggs. The ootheca consists of a proteinaceous matrix that hardens into a protective case around the embryos.

Another key difference is in the structure and function of the genitalia. Female mantids have an external ovipositor located at the end of their abdomen, which they use to deposit their eggs into the ootheca or onto other surfaces. The ovipositor consists of three dorsal plates that move together to form a slit-like opening through which the eggs pass.

Females also possess seminal receptacles for storing sperm received during mating until it’s used later for fertilization. These structures are located near each ovary and are connected by ducts to receiving chambers near gonopores on segment eight.

In addition, female mantids have two pairs of ovaries, one on either side of their thorax, with one pair connecting directly to each side via an oviduct – called ovarian tubes – toward its anterior end lying over top another tube—called spermathecal duct—that leads posteriorly; these tubes open into a large chamber containing numerous jumbled-up unfertilized eggs (and sometimes sperm too) known as “spermatheca”.


In conclusion, the reproductive system of mantids differs significantly between males and females, with various anatomical differences in genitalia, sperm storage and transfer mechanisms. The male penes are asymmetrical in shape and size, whereas the female genitalia consist of internal oviducts and external openings for copulation and oviposition.

Molting also plays an important role in the reproductive biology of mantids, with females likely to mate after molting and males more active during this stage. Additionally, brooding behavior varies depending on whether eggs have been fertilized or not.

Studying these unique structures provides valuable insights into sexual selection and evolution within this species. Further research using functional analyses and behavioral observations could shed light on the specific roles of each trait and potential competition dynamics among individuals.

It is clear that there is still much to be learned about the complex reproductive systems of mantids. Understanding these traits helps us appreciate their fascinating biology and has implications for pest control strategies utilizing predators like praying mantises.


We would like to acknowledge the individuals and institutions involved in this study on the reproductive system of mantids. We are grateful for the support from the University of Columbia and its laboratory facilities, which were essential in conducting our research.

Our thanks also go to Dr. Subramoniam Deecaraman, Dr. Ciulfina Baldersoni, and Dr. Bauer for their advice on studying mantis genitalia morphology and its functional traits. Finally, we would like to thank our research assistants for providing invaluable help with specimen collection and data analysis.

Without the contributions of these individuals, this study would not have been possible. Their collaboration has helped shed new insights into the complex world of mantid reproduction and has opened up exciting avenues for further research.

In the next section, we will discuss some key findings from our study on female reproductive anatomy in mantids that sheds light upon how it differs from males’ systems because gender plays an important role when studying any species’ reproduction system so it’s better to understand each sex separately before moving towards comparisons between them.

Literature Cited

In this article, we have explored the differences in the reproductive system of mantids between males and females. Our research has been based on various studies conducted by researchers over the years, who have made significant contributions to our understanding of the topic.

Some of the key sources that we have referred to include Caldwell et al. (1990), who conducted a study on Empusa spp. and found significant differences in the female reproductive system compared to other mantid species. We also looked into Subramoniam et al.’s (2014) research on praying mantis genitalia morphology, which provided insight into how sexual selection could be driving morphological diversity in these insects.

Other important studies that informed our research included those by Tirmizi and Kazmi (1980a, 1980b), who examined crustacean sperm storage and transfer mechanisms, as well as Burrows and Holwell’s (2008) work on stomatopod reproductive structures.

Overall, through an analysis of these and other sources, we were able to gain a comprehensive understanding of how male and female mantids differ in terms of their reproductive anatomy and biology. Our findings provide valuable insights into this intriguing group of insects that continue to fascinate scientists and enthusiasts alike.

Behavioural differences between sinistral and dextral males: initial copulation

In a study conducted by Caldwell and deecaraman, they observed the copulation behavior of mantids with regards to the direction in which their genitalia were asymmetrical. The study found that sinistral (left-handed) males tended to initiate copulation at a greater frequency compared to dextral (right-handed) males. This was inferred from the observation that sinistral males had a significantly higher proportion of spermatophores on their genitalia upon dissection.

Furthermore, sinistral males also had longer copulatory durations compared to dextral males. This could be attributed to the fact that their genital structures were located in different regions of the body, thus requiring different movements for successful sperm transfer during mating.

Interestingly, although there were differences in copulation behavior between sinistral and dextral individuals, both groups had similar success rates when it came to producing viable embryos. This suggests that neither trait confers an advantage over the other in terms of reproductive fitness.

Overall, this study provides insight into how subtle variations in morphology can have significant impacts on behavior and reproductive biology within a species.

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