By Dawn's Early Light: Matutinal Mating and Sex Attractants in a Neotropical Mantid

Science  24 Aug 1979:
Vol. 205, Issue 4408, pp. 825-827
DOI: 10.1126/science.205.4408.825


Females of the neotropical mantis Acanthops falcata adopt a special posture at dawn which is maintained for about 20 minutes. During the same period, males fly strongly, even in the absence of females. Our studies show that in this posture females are secreting a pheromone that acts as a sex attractant. All sexual activity in this species normally occurs between dawn and sunrise. It can be triggered by any dark-to-light transition, irrespective of real time. This sexual periodicity is probably an antipredator adaptation.