Female praying mantids like to eat their mate - so, male praying mantids evolved so they are able to assess the risk of cannibalism and be more cautious in the presence of hungry females!
“We know that hungry females are more likely to cannibalize and a head-on orientation makes it easier for her to attack the male with her predatory front legs,” says Brown.
Lelito and Brown thus varied female hunger and physical orientation in order to assess how male mantids respond to variation in the risk of cannibalism. They found that males responded to greater risk by slowing their approach, increasing courtship behavior, and mounting from a greater – and possibly safer – distance.
“This shows that male mantids actively assess variation in risk and change their behavior to reduce the chance of being cannibalized,” explains Brown. “Males are clearly not complicit, and the act of sexual cannibalism in praying mantids is an example of extreme conflict between the sexes.”