Stimulus Speed and Order of Presentation Effect the Visually Released Predatory Behaviors of the Praying Mantis Sphodromantis lineola (Burr.)Prete F.R. · Placek P.J. · Wilson M.A. · Mahaffey R.J. · Nemcek R.R.
Department of Psychology, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio, USA
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To assess the role of stimulus speed and order on the predatory behaviors of the praying mantis Sphodromantis lineola (Burr.), tethered adult females were presented with various flat black stimuli (lures) by means of a variable speed mechanical arm. Lure speed had a dramatic effect on mantis behavior: mantises emitted significantly more strikes to a 6 x 6 mm square and to 'worm’ lures (i.e. length > width=6 mm) moving at 34.3 cm/sec than they did to 'antiworm' lures (i.e. width>length=6 mm), or to slower moving lures. These effects were consistent over lure directions (0–75° relative to the mantis' long axis), and background patterns. On the other hand, mantises emitted significantly more approaching behavior to lures moving at 12 cm/sec than to lures moving at 36 cm/sec. This suggests that S. lineola extract distance information from retinal image velocity, as do other insects. Stimulus order also effected mantis predatory behavior: for instance, mantises were more likely to track a lure without striking at it on the first trial than on subsequent trials. However, after the first trial, they were also more likely to freeze (become immobile) when a lure was presented. Mantises were also less likely to strike at a preferred lure if it was preceded by one or two non-preferred lures. In a final experiment, intact, freely moving mantises were placed in an arena, presented with adult crickets, and video taped. The behaviors of the freely moving mantises were congruent with those of the tethered mantises in the previous experiments. This series of experiments demonstrates that the information processing capabilities of S. lineola are more complex than generally depicted, however, they can be explained by assuming a neural organization similar to that of other insects such as flies (Diptera) and dragonflies (Odonata).
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