Few People Know The Carolina Mantid Is The Official Insect Of The Palmetto State And Here's What You Should Know
The science of insects, also called entomology, is downright fascinating. But until you drill deeper into information about a particular species, you can’t fully appreciate some of the characteristics of said insect. Such was the case as we examined our own state insect, the Carolina Mantid, and discovered a brow-raising fact about the creature.
But before we get to that quirky (and quite shocking) characteristic of the Carolina Mantid, let's first tackle the word 'mantid.'
Obviously, mantid is commonly swapped with mantis, especially when referring to the Carolina Mantid. Unless you were in grade school sometime after 1988, don't stress out wondering how you could forget this species of the lovely Praying Mantis is the state insect.
It wasn't declared as such until the 1988 state legislative session.
The reasons given for adopting the Carolina Mantis from all the other insects and choosing it from among the 2,400 species of mantids were simple and straightforward: It was native to the area, easy to recognize (that's for sure), and it was beneficial in eating other insects that were harmful to agriculture.
But other insects aren't the ONLY thing the Carolina Mantid eats. For those reading this who aren't entomologists, we'll get to that small and ghastly detail soon enough.
Pictured here in a brown hue, is a Carolina Mantis nymph. The Carolina Mantis can change colors at younger ages. It will molt several times before evolving into a full-grown mantis.
The females mature to a size that's slightly larger than their male counterparts.
The photo of this green female probably depicts one that has already found a mate and is filled with a growing egg sack. Typically, the mantid will lay anywhere from 30 to 300 eggs which will take up to six months to hatch.
In many cultures, seeing a praying mantis is considered good luck. Its name even suggests a divine nature and the large forearms that merge together much like in prayer, further promote the magical sense of wonder the mantis elicits in those who spot one.
But there's something most people probably don't know about our state insect and it's pretty alarming (unless, as mentioned, you're an entomology enthusiast).
And if you think dating among homo sapiens is a daunting challenge, then just keep reading...
There's just no way to soften the impact with this so we'll just lay it out straight: our state insect, the adorable and loved Carolina Mantid, is a sexual cannibal. Studies suggest that in at least 25 percent of the mating encounters, the female begins to devour the male during the act. Woa.
Not wanting to see one of our own getting eaten by its mate, we dug up this image of the Chinese praying mantis cannibalizing a male while mating.
Scientists believe the act could be related to aggression toward the male for instigating an unwanted mating session. Another theory is that the cannibalism boils down to a limited availability of food.
As it turns out, sexual cannibalism is quite common among many insect species. The Black Widow spider, for instance, didn’t get the name by coincidence!
Did you know a praying mantis is the official South Carolina state insect or this quirky fact about the Carolina Mantid? After learning this (and all things considered), as a human, it’s not so scary now knowing love can only break your heart.
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