Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sexual Cannibals

We have been hearing a lot about the praying mantis recently. That probably comes as no surprise, since this small creature is an obsession of accused Satin Strangler Destiny Blande. Well, here’s some information about the Satin Strangler’s second favorite hobby.

The word mantis is derived from the Greek and means “prophet.” The addition of the term “praying” has to do with the unassuming posture this tiny but ferocious carnivore takes while waiting for its prey. The mantis’ closest relative is the cockroach. There are more than 2000 mantis species around the world, but three are most common in the Eastern United States. The most prevalent, the Carolina mantis, Stagmomantis carolina, is the subject of Destiny Blande’s research. The European and Chinese species were also introduced in the region during the last century as predators to help eliminate native garden pests.

The praying mantis is a master of camouflage. With twig-like legs and a leaf-like body, the mantis blends in with its surroundings while rocking rhythmically and waiting for its prey. The mantis can capture insects far exceeding its own size, attacking with lightning-quick motions measurable in thousands of a second. The mantis, not always picky when it comes to feeding, has been documented to attack such varied victims as frogs, turtles, fish, lizards, snakes, and rodents. The predator has even been captured on film stabbing a hummingbird through the heart with its spiked leg, and then dangling the enormous meal in the air while gradually devouring it.

Most interesting, particularly as it pertains to the Satin Strangler, is the fact that the female mantis often kills and devours the male following intercourse. She will typically start with the head, leaving behind the intact abdominal ganglion that controls sexual movements. The female is thought to use the male as a nutritional source to meet the energy requirements of growing her eggs.

Some researchers believe that this behavior predominantly occurs in captivity. Others, including suspected serial killer Destiny Blande, suggest that sexual cannibalism occurs as a rule in nature, except when the female has already been well fed.

Is this sexual cannibalism of the praying mantis an interesting coincidence as it pertains to Destiny Blande, or insight into the mind of a killer?


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