Context-dependent foraging behavior in Chinese mantids (Tenodera sinensis)


Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Mantids are a group most often studied in lab environments. While labs lend themselves well to the ability to control the variables in an experiment, it is difficult to gauge the impact of the environment itself on the data. This experiment aimed to see if different environmental contexts would change the learned behavior of Chinese praying mantids (Tenodera sinensis) in a captive setting. Trials were conducted over the span of four months and in two environmental contexts. Mantids were introduced to one initial context where they learned to avoid toxic prey and were then switched to the other context. With data from 10 mantids and a total of 151 trials, the mantids overall did not change their behavior when introduced to the second environment. This suggests, contrary to previous experiments suggesting a low learning efficacy, mantids may have the capabilities of learning at a higher level than other insects. Furthermore, it lends more validity to previous trials that had been conducted in labs before, given that mantids will still perform learned behaviors regardless of context. A somewhat interesting behavior was observed over the course of the trials that had only been recorded once before. The mantids, rather than just not attacking toxic prey, chose to attack and then reject the prey after learning they were toxic. This finding could suggest that the taste of a learned toxic prey stimulates the response to reject it. These findings help give more information about mantises as sit-and-wait predators, and how they might react in the wild when encountering a toxic prey item.



Chinese mantis, context-dependent learning, behavioral contexts, Tenodera sinensis, foraging, Research Subject Categories::NATURAL SCIENCES