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A new device to autonomously feed individualized mantids on extended periods of time

Scherrer, Marcus V., Aguiar, Alexandre P.
Revista Brasileira de entomologia 2019
Mantodea, cannibalism, instars, models, monitoring, ontogeny, rearing
Mantises can live for many months, are naturally voracious, and feed invariably on live prey. Many species have a propensity for cannibalism and cannot be kept together for most of their life cycle, which makes large-scale rearing typically time-consuming, thus easily becoming prohibitive. This is particularly true for early instars, because they are the most abundant stage of a developmental cohort. Such limitation hinders research on Mantodea which depend on live individuals, such as behavior, physiology, ontogeny, and others. In this work, a simple, low-maintenance “self-service” device is described, which is greatly effective in reducing the time needed for keeping live, individual, small to medium-sized mantises. Trial and error usage and modifications along eight years lead to many improvements, resulting in a nearly optimal device for its target purpose. The final model allows rearing large numbers of mantises while demanding only a fraction of the time demanded by conventional rearing techniques. Key advantages include prevention of cannibalism, the possibility of monitoring mantises individually, and full functioning autonomy of up to several weeks. The new device has ample potential in stimulating and supporting Mantodea research on diverse areas.