Sunday, July 31, 2005

More Mantis stuff

After a brief panic this morning- we discovered that Mantis MOLT! Yea. My daughter thought an evil spider had gotten to one of our babies. Cool mantis site here. I think you can even order a cocoon from them.

Because the mantis goes through definite physical changes as it develops, it is said to go through a metamorphosis. The word metamorphosis means "change." The praying mantis goes through three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Scientists call this an incomplete metamorphosis because the nymph looks quite a lot like the adult insect.

A mantis nymph grows in a special way. In order to increase in size, it must replace the outer covering of its body. An insects body is enclosed in a tough, flexible covering called an exoskeleton. This covering acts as an exterior skeleton, serving the same purpose as the bony, internal skeletons of other kinds of animals.

Unlike bones, however an insects exoskeleton does not grow along with its body. As the insect gets larger, its exoskeleton eventually becomes too tight. When this happens, the old exoskeleton is shed or molted, and replaced by a new, roomier one that forms underneath.

Mantis nymphs may molt five to ten times in all, depending on the species. They grow larger with each molt. The last time it slips out of its tight skin, it will have fully formed wings. At first, they are wrinkled and pale. Soon they are stretched out and begin to dry. 

Too cool!