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Fish-Eating Praying Mantis

September 25, 2018

A giant insect gobbles up guppies – and other small animals.

Transcript

A praying mantis munches on a guppy it caught in an artificial pond in India. (Rajesh Puttaswamaiah)

A praying mantis munches on a guppy it caught in an artificial pond in India. (Rajesh Puttaswamaiah)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A guppy-munching insect. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Giants among insects, praying mantises have been observed to gobble up frogs, rodents, and even small birds. Now, researchers report in the Journal of Orthoptera Research that fish can be added to that list. Italian entomologist Roberto Battiston of the Musei del Canal di Brenta has been working with the insects for 20 years.

ROBERTO BATTISTON (Musei del Canal di Brenta/Museums of the Canal of Brenta):

So I was quite surprised because it is the first time heard about mantis feeding on a fish.

HIRSHON:

He says colleagues in India first alerted him to the unusual behavior via social media. They documented the mantis climbing onto pond vegetation to grab the guppies at night.

BATTISTON:

They have very sharp mandibles, so they basically cut the fish like a Japanese chef.

HIRSHON:

Battiston says the insects have large brains and may actually learn to fish through repeated experience. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.

Original source:

Battiston R, Puttaswamaiah R, Manjunath N (2018) The fishing mantid: predation on fish as a new adaptive strategy for praying mantids (Insecta: Mantodea). Journal of Orthoptera Research27(2): 155-158. https://doi.org/10.3897/jor.27.28067

Story by Susanne Bard