Hi, Bugman.
Is it true that a male praying mantis must have his head bitten off by the female he is mating with, in order to ejaculate? If so, that would be quite a decision to make, it seems to me! For the male, that is. And is this uncommon in the insect world? What might be the reason for this to be the case with the praying mantis?
M. Mattison
Oslo, Norway
(the praying mantis is referred to as a "kneeler" in Norway)

Hi Mark,
While it is not necessary for the male preying mantis to be beheaded in order to consumate the mating ritual, the female mantis will occasionally bite off her mate’s head. Much like a chicken with its head cut off, the male mantis will continue to perform actions, in this case, continuing the mating procedure. The male mantis doesn’t really make a decision in this matter. He is a slave to his hormones. It is fair to call this behavior uncommon in the insect world, though many female spiders, including the black widow, also devour their mate, which gets to the main reason this occurs. The female requires a considerable amount of nutrition to produce strong eggs, and to survive to protect them as well. The sacrifice of the male of the species helps to ensure that a healthy future generation gets off to a good start. It is for the good of the species, not the survival of the individual. "Kneeler" is an interesting local name. I wonder what its origin is. Here are some photos I love. They are steps 4 and 5 in the mating of the Preying Mantis shot by Catherine Chalmers for her book Food Chain: Encounters Between Mates, Predators, and Prey published by Aperture.

Thanks a lot for your explanation. And what is the correct spelling? "Preying" or "praying?" Both of them make sense. As for the reason why they’re called "kneeles" in Norwegian, I will try to find out. Thanks again.
Mark Mattison

Both spellings are correct, depending upon the author. I prefer to spotlight the hunting versus the religious connotation.

I now believe that the Norwegian name "kneeler" is from the same reason we say "praying" mantis: you kneel when you pray. At least if you accept the "praying" spelling. At least it makes sense. Why didn’t I think of that
before?
Mark

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi, Bugman.
Is it true that a male praying mantis must have his head bitten off by the female he is mating with, in order to ejaculate? If so, that would be quite a decision to make, it seems to me! For the male, that is. And is this uncommon in the insect world? What might be the reason for this to be the case with the praying mantis?
M. Mattison
Oslo, Norway
(the praying mantis is referred to as a "kneeler" in Norway)

Hi Mark,
While it is not necessary for the male preying mantis to be beheaded in order to consumate the mating ritual, the female mantis will occasionally bite off her mate’s head. Much like a chicken with its head cut off, the male mantis will continue to perform actions, in this case, continuing the mating procedure. The male mantis doesn’t really make a decision in this matter. He is a slave to his hormones. It is fair to call this behavior uncommon in the insect world, though many female spiders, including the black widow, also devour their mate, which gets to the main reason this occurs. The female requires a considerable amount of nutrition to produce strong eggs, and to survive to protect them as well. The sacrifice of the male of the species helps to ensure that a healthy future generation gets off to a good start. It is for the good of the species, not the survival of the individual. "Kneeler" is an interesting local name. I wonder what its origin is. Here are some photos I love. They are steps 4 and 5 in the mating of the Preying Mantis shot by Catherine Chalmers for her book Food Chain: Encounters Between Mates, Predators, and Prey published by Aperture.

Thanks a lot for your explanation. And what is the correct spelling? "Preying" or "praying?" Both of them make sense. As for the reason why they’re called "kneeles" in Norwegian, I will try to find out. Thanks again.
Mark Mattison

Both spellings are correct, depending upon the author. I prefer to spotlight the hunting versus the religious connotation.

I now believe that the Norwegian name "kneeler" is from the same reason we say "praying" mantis: you kneel when you pray. At least if you accept the "praying" spelling. At least it makes sense. Why didn’t I think of that
before?
Mark

Hello, we live in Tampa, Florida and we have recently been seeing these beetles in our home. They are brownish in color, about 1/16 of an inch in length, are more active at night, can fly and seem to be attracted to light. They also appear to like linens and laundry. I am trying to find their access to the home as they disturb my daughter at night.
Thank you,
Adam Matthews and Family

Dear Adams Family,
Most of the time when small beetles appear in the home, they are some type of pantry beetle. The larvae feed on a wide variety of grain products in the pantry. They can be found in flour, cookies, dog food and pasta among other things. Adults which fly are pollen feeders. Perhaps your fabric softener is attracting them to the clothes. Check your dry goods and try to track down the source of the infestation.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Our houseflies seem to show up seasonally, after the heat of the summer andbefore it turns cold. The warm winter we’ve experienced so far this year inNorth Carolina seems to have extended the flies’ season. While ours seem tobe common houseflies, they tend to congregate in our bathrooms and thekitchen. They aren’t as small as the writer Holly describes "bathroomflies". They look very much like the 1/3/04 picture that Jackie sent.While Jackie and her boyfriend were on vacation and returned to full-grownflies, we NEVER see anything less than an adult fly, no immature flies orlarvae. The cycle is that the adult flies show up over a period of two-three days(about 50-80 in number) then die in the next 3-4. We’ll have some peacethen and the cycle resumes, seemingly tied to the outside temperature–nottoo hot or cold. Of possible interest is that they also afflict one of our next door neighbors at about the same time (September-Octoberish) each year,but not the house on the other side of us (same side of street not far from a creek).
Finally, my questions:
1. What would you use to clean the drains in order to kill and eggs/larvae that might be germinating there?
2. What is the lifespan of the type of fly I’ve described?
3. Since they seem to be breeding inside and are drawn to the light, buzzing around the North-facing windows, is the outside temperature just a coincidence?
4. As there is no obvious organic matter that these flies are breeding in, have you any knowledge of something we could spray around the kitchen baseboards that might help control them?
5. Our dogs like to eat the flies. Is this a potential health threat forthem?
I am grateful for any help you can provide.
Heather

Dear Heather,
You have such a lucid letter. I hope I can be of some help. Bathroom flies are a totally different species with a different appearance. They breed in drains, but other flies do not. You do seem to have cyclical broods appearing. Finding the food source is the true key to solving the problem. A little bit of ancient history provided by Encyclopaedia Britannica: Spontaneous Generation or Abiogenesis was a theory that stated that fully formed living organisms sometimes arise from non-living matter. Aristotle taught the theory as observed fact. The Italian Redi, in 1668, proved that no maggots were "bred" in meat on which flies were prevented by wire screens from laying their eggs.
The fact is, flies seem to have a way of magically appearing. Flies were also, in the days of the persecutions, associated with witches. There is no magic, they are breeding on something. Adult flies will live for several weeks, but the maturation cycle varies with the temperature. It can be as short as a week in warm temperatures. The dogs can eat the flies without harm. Spraying poisons will help kill the adults, but will make your home toxic. Get to the root of the problem and discover the food source. Could there be something dead in the walls? Potatoes rotting under the sink? They are eating something. Good Luck.

You’re a good man. A good man with bad news. The thought of a dead rodent in the wall had flickered in my mind, but I was able to suppress it before it took hold. Until you wrote. I believe I’ll try the vents first. Perhaps the pantry floor. It would be easier if something smelled. I appreciate your thoughtful reply and bonus history lesson very much.
Heather

Found this critter in our yard this year (we live in Texas). Sat down on the garden swing and then found we were covered in them. Have never seen one before. Sort of looks like a cross between a spider (the round torso) a fly (the wings) and a mosquito (legs and stinger like head)? Sorry I couldn’t get a closer pic. The camera wouldn’t focus on the bug and not the leafs that close. Haven’t hung around long enough to see if they sting or not.
Sandra

Dear Sandra,
It is difficult to be certain with your photograph, but I’m guessing you encountered a swarm of Hessian Flies, Mayetiola destructor, an agricultural pest in the Midge family Cecidomyiidae. The maggots do serious damage to wheat plants. Adults are small (1/8 to 3/16 inch long), dark or red-tinged, gnat-like flies with long legs and antennae. The insect got its common name, according to Lutz, when the European insect was first noticed on Long Island shortly after the Hessian troops landed there. It is especially plentiful in Texas. Here is a downloaded Photo by C. Hoelscher.

Just finished looking at your page of beetles and think I have found mine. Found this specimen on my patio in Charleston, West Virginia, in July 2000. I am into the hobby of scrapbooking pictures and was including this one in my “Flora nd Fauna” album. Hope you enjoy.
S. Humphrey

Dear Sue,
Thank you for the awesome photos. We are sorry that in the interest of space, we could not include your artwork as presented, but we have included several of the better images. They are among the best photos of Dynastes tityus we have received. Your male specimen has impressive horns. I believe this enormous beetle intimidates photographers into making out of focus images.