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*Important Notes and Observations:


 
*On 15 Nov, ‘Mantis-Cindy’ released foamy ootheca case in the morning and had no trouble taking a decent-sized locust just 12 hours later.  ‘Mantis-Manute’ was not able to tackle an immature katydid after molting over 24 hours ago.  I always said, mantids were at their highest hunger-aggression after an ootheca release and at the second feeding after a molt.  I still believe that to be true.  But today I realized a danger when attempting the first feeding after a molt.  A female mantis is very strong after an ootheca delivery.  A mantis just after a molt is still vulnerable to injury.  The Archimantis was injured and I could only guess that it was due to soft skin.
 
*Hierodula majuscula is commonly referred to as the ‘Australian Giant Mantis’, however, it is also referred to as the ‘Hooded Horror’ (which is even published in books).  This could cause some confusion since there is another Australian species in the Hierodula genus that is referred to as the ‘Hooded Horror’.  This species is Hierodula atricoxis which, in my opinion, is the true ‘Hooded Horror’.  The reason is obvious if you see this species.  Its thorax (from the dorsal view) is shaped like a hood, much like a hooded cobra.
 
  I’ve never seen an actual photo of H. atricoxis, only a drawing from a detailed book on Entomology.  Described to me by two well-respected and accomplished Entomologists from Victoria, this species seems to be rare and my knowledge on it is limited.  One source referred to this species as synonymous to Tamolanica tamolana, the New Guinea Shield Mantis.  If you take a look at a photo of T. tamolana, it is very similar to the drawing of H. atricoxis.  Its ‘hood’ is identical to H. atricoxis, as opposed to that of another ‘shielded’ mantis,Rhombodera basalis, the Malaysian Giant Shield Mantis.
 
  The oval shape on R. basalis covers virtually the entire thorax from the base of the neck to the base of the wings.  The oval shape on T. tamolana and H. atricoxis falls slightly short of covering the entire thorax (terminating well before the base of the wings).  In all fairness to H. majuscula, even though I don’t feel it should be referred to as ‘Hooded Horror’, it does have a slight ‘hood’ which only covers the anterior half of the thorax.
 
*About the female Tenodera australasiae that died sometime between 11-12 Nov following the final molt, I’ve seen a similar case back in ’96 where a subadult Tenodera aridifolia sinensis appeared to be dying before the final molt.   As I recall, the mantis was able to molt, but could not hold on afterwards.  I’m actually not sure if my memory is accurate about that, but my impression is that perhaps this is more common in the Tenodera genus.  I had this concern with both ‘Houdini’ (Hierodula majuscula) and ‘Manute’ (Archimantis latistyla), both with extensive fasting prior to their final molts.  ‘Houdini’ came out strongly, however ‘Manute’ appeared to be in a weakened state following her molt.  It took at least several days for her to fully regain her strength.
 
*I’ve seen mantids begin to physically crumble with age.  In late Nov 1996, at the end of a season of raising Tenodera ardifolia sinensis in the US, I gently picked up one of the last remaining of 14 sibling mantids, slowly placed her on my hand, and one of her legs snapped.  Most of them had reached maturity in August of that year and would normally have passed on by October from the cold weather.  When kept warm, they live a bit longer, but their bodies begin to break down.  This seems to have happened to the Orthodera ministralis that I captured on 13 Nov.  Her deteriorating body was not able to hold firm during the struggle with the moth.
 
*On 3 Dec, ‘Cindy’,Sphodropoda mjobergi, battled an Epacra sp.  These are crickets from the Family Gryllacrididae and are considered either omnivorous or carnivorous, and judging by its large, powerful jaws, it can most certainly devour other invertebrates.  I don’t know much about these crickets and I considered keeping it to study its behavior (which I might do next time).  I’ve kept this cricket for several days in a container adjacent to the mantis.  During that time, the mantis stared and tried to grab it through the barrier of the enclosure.  I knew this cricket was formidable and not easy prey by any means because of certain features (jaws, spikes).
 
  I had to decide whether to feed it to ‘Cindy’ or ‘Houdini’.  I went with ‘Cindy’ because I felt she deserved it after several days of frustration staring at it from behind the walls of the containers.  Had the cricket been slightly bigger, I would definitely have gone with ‘Houdini’, being slightly bigger and stronger.  Had the cricket been equal in mass of either mantis, enclosing them together would be like those controversial Japanese bug fights.  Similar to the Giant Wetas which dominate smaller mantids, this wood cricket, win or lose, would be more than dangerous for a mantis of equal mass and I would not be willing to risk my mantis to that level.