Reproduction Mantids propagate sexually. Just a few exceptions are known, which make parthenogenesis, where no males for the reproduction are needed. From a parthenogenetic ooth only female nymphs will hatch. But almost all mantids have a sexual reproduction. Some days till weeks after the imaginal-molting the adults are sexually mature. This time depends on the species, but also on temperature and feed. 7-14 days is the average. When the female reached the sexual maturity, she starts to secret pheromones, by bending her abdome to the ground to spray the pheromones. According to species, you can sometimes see her spray
As soon as the female secretes pheromones, she is willing to mate. So you try to mature them, by placing the male to the female. When the male absorbs the pheromones with its antennae, it will follow this trace of scent. Thus errant males find the locomotion-lazy females in nature in wide spaces. This kind of communication has advantages compared with other ways: the females do not reveal their position to predators or prey. When the male has the spoor, it follows this track to find the female (often 20cm - 50cm). When the male has found its female, the approach depends on the species. Basically there are two ways of rapprochement. The first one is, that the male goes straight and fast to the female and jumps on her without any courtship behavior. So the male surprises the female. This behavior is typical for smaller species like Odontomantis, Pseudogalepsus und Ameles. More often a courtship behavior takes place. The male closes on the female, but more slowly and with caution to avoid being identified as prey, the male approaches from behind. When the male is close enough it vibrates with its antennae. Probably this "vibrating" becalms the female, but this is not proven. If the female ready to mate it flattens and puts forth its arms. The male recognizes this behavior as an "invitation" and jumps/flies on the female. After jumping on the female, sometimes male sits wrong, but they will correct the position.
As soon as the male has the right position, it holds on tight at the females pronotum with its arms. Some species sit on the females without copulation, after the mounting. The female carries the male on its back, sometimes for several days. This behavior is often shown by Pseudocreobotra and Phyllocrania, for example. The mating starts when the male is searching for the female`s vent. When the male finds it, the female expands the vent, allowing the male to penetrate. After this, the male remains in this position, depending on the species for minutes, hours or even days (this is the specified copulation-period). At the end the male transfers the spermatophore (sperm "packet") to the female, which contains the sperm.
After the transfer the male escapes as fast as possible to avoid being identified as prey. In case of cannibalism during the mating, the copulation is not influenced, because the abdomen can continue independently and transfer the spermatophore. Sexual cannibalism is seldom and can often lead back to a bad nutritional condition of the female. Thus the female should be fed very well, till she doesn't want to eat any more. Furthermore prey can be given to the female while the male is attempting to mate. The female drops out the closure of the sperm-packet and strikes it off or eats it. The males are 2-5 days are ready to mate after the copulation. The female in contrary starts to build an ooth hours, days or weeks after the mating, depending on the species.
After depositing the ooth, several days are needed till the female is ready to mate again. One fertilisation is often enough for several ooths. The females can store sperms to fertilize the eggs later. It is recommendable to repeat the mating after 1-2 ooth, with inbreeders particulary. Is an adult female not being mated, it will build a compensation-ooth (if this is not the right term and you know it, please write us!), probably. Except of parthenogenetic species, from this ooth nothing will hatch. The necessarity to lay this ooth is to survive, because the female starts to build the eggs shortly after her imaginal molting, but they cannot be stored for a longer time. The compensation-ooth is often smaller than fertilized ones. It is not possible to differ unfertilized ooth from fertilized. To get more clarity it is necessary to open the ooth. If larvae are growing, you should see them from the middle of the incubation time. If the incubation time is exceeded, you can open the ooth carefully at a small area. You can find: rice-grain similar eggs, fluid-filled: unfertilized ooth humid eggs, larvae identifiable: fertilized ooth, hatch can follow desiccated and/ or shriveled eggs: the incubation was to dry Sexing: Many species have sex dimorphism (differences between male and female within the same species). A sure method to differ the sexes is to count the abdominal sternites (segments at the abdome-underside). This is possible from ca. L4/L5. The females have 6 segments. The last segment (at the end of the abdome) is large, comparatively, and is called "sub-genital-plate". The males have 8 visible segments. The last two are smaller than the rest and are together nearly as big as the sub-genitalplate of the female.