Mantodea (or mantisesmantes) is an order of insects that contains over 2,400 species and about 430 genera in 15 families worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. Most of the species are in the family Mantidae.

The English common name for the order is the mantises, or rarely (using a Latinized plural of Greek mantis), the mantes. The name mantis refers only to members of the family Mantidae. The other common name, often applied to any species in the order, is “praying mantis“, because of the typical “prayer-like” posture with folded fore-limbs, although the eggcorn “preying mantis” is sometimes used in reference to their predatory habits. In Europe and other regions, however, the name “praying mantis” refers to only a single species, Mantis religiosa. The closest relatives of mantises are the termites and cockroaches (order Blattodea). They are sometimes confused with phasmids (stick/leaf insects) and other elongated insects such asgrasshoppers and crickets, or other insects with raptorial forelegs such as mantisflies.

The name mantodea is formed from the Ancient Greek words μάντις (mantis) meaning “prophet”, and εἶδος (eidos) meaning “form” or “type”. It was coined in 1838 by the German entomologist Hermann Burmeister.


Anatomy and morphology

Mantises have two grasping, spiked forelegs (“raptorial legs”) in which prey items are caught and held securely. In most insect legs, including the posterior four legs of a mantis, the coxa and trochanter combine as an inconspicuous base of the leg; in the raptorial legs however, the coxa and trochanter combine to form a segment about as long as the femur, which is a spiky part of the grasping apparatus. Located at the base of the femur are a set of discoidal spines, usually four in number, but ranging from zero to as many as five depending on the species. These spines are preceded by a number of tooth-like tubercles, which, along with a similar series of tubercles along the tibia and the apical claw near its tip, give the foreleg of the mantis its grasp on its prey. The foreleg ends in a delicate tarsus made of between four and five segments and ending in a two-toed claw with no arolium and used as a walking appendage.

The mantis thorax consists of a prothorax, a mesothorax, and a metathorax. In all species apart from the genus Mantoida, the prothorax, which bears the head and forelegs, is much longer than the other two thoracic segments. The prothorax is also flexibly articulated, allowing for a wide range of movement of the head and forelimbs while the remainder of the body remains more or less immobile. The articulation of the neck is also remarkably flexible; some species of mantis can rotate the head nearly 180 degrees.

Mantises may have a visual range of up to 20 metres. Their compound eyes may comprise up to 10,000 ommatidia. The eyes are widely spaced and laterally situated, affording a wide binocular field of vision and, at close range, precise stereoscopic vision. The dark spot on each eye is a pseudopupil. As their hunting relies heavily on vision, mantises are primarily diurnal. Many species, however, fly at night, and then may be attracted to artificial lights. Nocturnal flight is especially important to males in search of less-mobile females that they locate by detecting their pheromones. Flying at night exposes mantises to fewer bird predators than diurnal flight would. Many mantises also have an auditory thoracic organ that helps them to avoid bats by detecting their echolocation and responding evasively.

Mantises can be loosely categorized as being macropterous (long-winged), brachypterous (short-winged), micropterous (vestigial-winged), or apterous (wingless). If not wingless, a mantis has two sets of wings: the outer wings, or tegmina, are usually narrow, opaque, and leathery. They function as camouflage and as a shield for the hind wings. The hind wings are much broader, more delicate, and transparent. They are the main organs of flight, if any. Brachypterous species are at most minimally capable of flight, other species not at all. The wings are mostly erected in these mantids for alarming enemies and attracting females. Even in many macropterous species the female is much heavier than the male, has much shorter wings, and rarely takes flight if she is capable of it at all.

The abdomen of all mantises consist of ten tergites with a corresponding set of nine sternites visible in males and seven visible in females. The slim abdomen of most males allows them to take flight more easily while the thicker abdomen of the females houses the reproductive machinery for generating the ootheca. The abdomen of both sexes ends in a pair of cerci.*


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The behavior of most mantises are exclusively predatory while exceptions are predominantly so. Insects form their primary prey, but the diet of a mantis changes as it grows larger. In its first instar a mantis eats small insects such as tiny flies or its own siblings. In later instars it doesn’t or cannot profitably pursue such small prey. In the final instar as a rule the diet still includes more insects than anything else, but large species of mantis have been known to prey on small scorpions, lizards, frogs, birds.

Chinese Mantids have been found to gain benefits in survivorship, growth, and fecundity by supplementing their diet with pollen. In replicated laboratory tests the first instar actively fed on pollen just after hatching, thereby avoiding starvation in the absence of prey. The adults fed on pollen-laden insects, attaining fecundity as high as those fed on larger numbers of insects alone.

About their defense generally, mantises protect themselves by camouflage and concealment. When directly threatened, many mantis species stand tall and spread their forelegs, with their wings fanning out wide. The fanning of the wings makes the mantis seem larger and more threatening, with some species having bright colors and patterns on their hind wings and inner surfaces of their front legs for this purpose. If harassment persists, a mantis may strike with its forelegs and attempt to pinch or bite. As part of the threat display, some species also may produce a hissing sound by expelling air from the abdominal spiracles. When flying at night, at least some mantises are able to detect the echolocation sounds produced by bats, and when the frequency begins to increase rapidly, indicating an approaching bat, they stop flying horizontally and begin a descending spiral toward the safety of the ground, often preceded by an aerial loop or spin.

Mantises, like stick insects, show rocking behaviour in which the insect makes rhythmic, repetitive side-to-side movements. Functions proposed for this behaviour include the enhancement of crypsis by means of the resemblance to vegetation moving in the wind. However, the repetitive swaying movements may be most important in allowing the insects to discriminate objects from the background by their relative movement, a visual mechanism typical of animals with simpler sight systems. Rocking movements by these generally sedentary insects may replace flying or running as a source of relative motion of objects in the visual field.

Organic gardeners who avoid pesticides may encourage mantises as a form of biological pest control. During fall in temperate regions, mantis females typically deposit an ootheca on the underside of a leaf or on a twig, and in some species these are harvested commercially. If the egg case survives winter, the offspring, called nymphs, emerge in late spring or early summer. The nymphs have voracious appetites and typically cannibalize each other if they cannot find an adequate supply of aphids and other small insects. Tens of thousands of mantis egg cases are sold each year in some garden stores for this purpose. However, mantises prey on neutral andbeneficial insects as well, basically eating anything they can successfully capture and devour.

The mantis in the photo is Empusa Pennata, common names conehead mantis in English and mantis palo in Spanish, is a species of praying mantis in genus Empusa. It can be found in Spain and parts of Portugal, France, Lebanon,Central and Southern Italy and Greece.

Empusa pennata generally has large and thin body along with a great flying apparatus by their pair of wings and light body mass. Also, they are mostly found in perennial herbs and scrubs. There are three ways for insects to find mates: chemical, acoustic, and visual signals. Cryptic coloration is significant to some predatory insects like Mantids, which is used to protect themselves from predators and to capture their prey.

*Photos took from our organic garden.




Honey bees (or honeybees) are bees of the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests from wax. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini, all in the genus Apis. Currently, only seven species of honey bee are recognized, with a total of 44 subspecies, though historically, from six to 11 species have been recognised. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the roughly 20,000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.

The study of honey bees is known as apiology.

Different bees:


Apis florea and Apis andreniformis are small honey bees of southern and southeastern Asia. They make very small, exposed nests in trees and shrubs. Their stings are often incapable of penetrating human skin, so the hive and swarms can be handled with minimal protection.


One species is recognized in the subgenus Megapis. It usually builds single or a few exposed combs on high tree limbs, on cliffs, and sometimes on buildings. They can be very fierce. Periodically robbed of their honey by human “honey hunters”, colonies are easily capable of stinging a human being to death if provoked.

  • Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee, is native and widespread across most of South and Southeast Asia.
    • Apis dorsata binghami, the Indonesian honey bee, is classified as the Indonesian subspecies of the giant honey bee or a distinct species; in the latter case, A. d. breviligula and/or other lineages would probably also have to be considered species.
    • Apis dorsata laboriosa, the Himalayan honey bee, was initially described as a distinct species. Later, it was included in A. dorsata as a subspecies based on the biological species concept, though authors applying a genetic species concept have suggested it should be considered a species. Essentially restricted to the Himalayas, it differs little from the giant honey bee in appearance, but has extensive behavioral adaptations that enable it to nest in the open at high altitudes despite low ambient temperatures. It is the largest living honey bee.


The eastern species include three or four species. The reddish Koschevnikov’s bee (Apis koschevnikovi) from Borneo is well distinct; it probably derives from the first colonization of the island by cave-nesting honey bees. Apis cerana, the eastern honey bee proper, is the traditional honey bee of southern and eastern Asia, kept in hives in a similar fashion to A. mellifera, though on a much smaller and regionalised scale. It has not been possible yet to resolve its relationship to the Bornean A. c. nuluensis and Apis nigrocincta from thePhilippines to satisfaction; the most recent hypothesis is that these are indeed distinct species, but that A. cerana is still paraphyletic, consisting of several good species.

The European honey bee originated from eastern Africa. This bee is pictured in Tanzania.

A. mellifera, the most common domesticated species, was the third insect to have its genomemapped. It seems to have originated in eastern tropical Africa and spread from there to Northern Europe and eastwards into Asia to the Tien Shan range. It is variously called the European, western or common honey bee in different parts of the world. Many subspecieshave adapted to the local geographic and climatic environments; in addition, hybrid strains, such as the Buckfast bee, have been bred. Behavior, color, and anatomy can be quite different from one subspecies or even strain to another.

Apis mellifera is not native to the Americas, so was not present upon the arrival of the European explorers and colonists. However, other native bee species were kept and traded by indigenous peoples. In 1622, European colonists brought the dark bee (A. m. mellifera) to the Americas, followed later by Italian bees (A. m. ligustica) and others. Many of the crops that depend on honey bees for pollination have also been imported since colonial times. Escaped swarms (known as “wild” bees, but actually feral) spread rapidly as far as the Great Plains, usually preceding the colonists. Honey bees did not naturally cross the Rocky Mountains; they were transported by the Mormon pioneers to Utah in the late 1840s, and by ship to California in the early 1850s.

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Life cycle

As in a few other types of eusocial bees, a colony generally contains one queen bee, a fertile female; seasonally up to a few thousand drone bees or fertile males; and a large seasonally variable population of sterile female worker bees. Details vary among the different species of honey bees, but common features include:

1. Eggs are laid singly in a cell in a wax honeycomb, produced and shaped by the worker bees. Using her spermatheca, the queen actually can choose to fertilize the egg she is laying, usually depending on into which cell she is laying. Drones develop from unfertilised eggs and are haploid, while females (queens and worker bees) develop from fertilised eggs and are diploid. Larvae are initially fed with royal jellyproduced by worker bees, later switching to honey and pollen. The exception is a larva fed solely on royal jelly, which will develop into a queen bee. The larva undergoes several moultings before spinning a cocoon within the cell, and pupating.

2. Young worker bees clean the hive and feed the larvae. When their royal jelly-producing glands begin to atrophy, they begin building comb cells. They progress to other within-colony tasks as they become older, such as receiving nectar and pollen from foragers, and guarding the hive. Later still, a worker takes her first orientation flights and finally leaves the hive and typically spends the remainder of her life as a forager.

3. Worker bees cooperate to find food and use a pattern of “dancing” (known as thebee dance or waggle dance) to communicate information about resources with each other; this dance varies from species to species, but all living species of Apis show some form of the behavior. If the resources are very close to the hive, they may also show a less specific dance commonly known as the “round dance”.

4. Honey bees also do tremble dances, which recruit receiver bees to collect nectar from returning foragers.

5. Virgin queens go on mating flights away from their home colony to a drone congregation area, and mate with multiple drones before returning. The drones die in the act of mating. Queen honey bees do not mate with drones from their home colony.

6. Colonies are established not by solitary queens, as in most bees, but by groups known as “swarms”, which consist of a mated queen and a large contingent of worker bees. This group moves en masse to a nest site scouted by worker bees beforehand. Once they arrive, they immediately build a new wax comb and begin to raise new worker brood. This type of nest founding is not seen in any other living bee genus, though several groups of vespid wasps also found new nests by swarming (sometimes including multiple queens). Also, stingless bees will start new nests with large numbers of worker bees, but the nest is constructed before a queen is escorted to the site, and this worker force is not a true “swarm”.

Sexes and castes

The two sexes of honey bee are: females (workers and queens) and males (or drones). A caste is a different form, morphologically or reproductively, within the same sex of a species. In sum, the three types of honey bees are drones, workers, and queens, and two female castes: queens and workers.


Males or drones are typically haploid, having only one set of chromosomes. They are produced by the queen if she chooses not to fertilize an egg; or by an unfertilized laying worker. Diploid drones may be produced if an egg is fertilized but is homozygous for the sex-determination allele. Drones take 24 days to develop and may be produced from summer through autumn. Drones have large eyes used to find queens during mating flights. Drones do not have a sting.


Workers are female bees and have two sets of chromosomes. They are produced from an egg that the queen has selectively fertilized from stored sperm. Workers typically develop in 21 days. A typical colony may contain as many as 60,000 worker bees. Workers show a wider range of behaviors than either queens or drones. Their duties change upon the age of the bee in the following order (beginning with cleaning out their own cell after eating through their capped brood cell): feed brood, receive nectar, clean hive, guard duty, and foraging. Some workers engage in other specialized behaviors, such as “undertaking” (removing corpses of their nestmates from inside the hive).

Workers have morphological specializations, including the corbiculum or pollen basket, abdominal glands that produce beeswax, brood-feeding glands, and barbs on the sting. Under certain conditions (such as, if the colony becomes queenless), a worker may develop ovaries.


Queen honey bees, like workers, are female. They are created at the decision of the worker bees by feeding a larva only royal jelly throughout its development, rather than switching from royal jelly to pollen once the larva grows past a certain size. Queens are produced in oversized cells and develop in only 16 days. Queens have a different morphology and behavior from worker bees. In addition to the greater size of the queen, she has a functional set of ovaries, and a spermatheca, which stores and maintains sperm after she has mated. The sting of queens is not barbed like a worker’s sting, and queens lack the glands that produce beeswax. Once mated, queens may lay up to 2,000 eggs per day. They produce a variety of pheromones that regulate behavior of workers, and helps swarms track the queen’s place during the migratory phase.


Apis cerana japonica forming a ball around two hornets: The body heat trapped by the ball will overheat and kill the hornets.

All honey bees live in colonies where the workers sting intruders as a form of defense, and alarmed bees release a pheromonethat stimulates the attack response in other bees. The different species of honey bees are distinguished from all other bee species (and virtually all other Hymenoptera) by the possession of small barbs on the sting, but these barbs are found only in the worker bees. The sting and associated venom sac of honey bees are also modified to pull free of the body once lodged (autotomy), and the sting apparatus has its own musculature and ganglion, which allow it to keep delivering venom once detached. The worker dies after the sting becomes lodged and is subsequently torn loose from the bee’s abdomen.

This complex apparatus, including the barbs on the sting, is thought to have evolved specifically in response to predation by vertebrates, as the barbs do not usually function (and the sting apparatus does not detach) unless the sting is embedded in fleshy tissue. While the sting can also penetrate the membranes between joints in the exoskeleton of other insects (and is used in fights between queens), in the case of Apis cerana japonica, defense against larger insects such as predatory wasps (e.g.Asian giant hornet) is usually performed by surrounding the intruder with a mass of defending worker bees, which vibrate their muscles vigorously to raise the temperature of the intruder to a lethal level. Previously, heat alone was thought to be responsible for killing intruding wasps, but recent experiments have demonstrated the increased temperature in combination with increased carbon dioxide levels within the ball produce the lethal effect. This phenomenon is also used to kill a queen perceived as intruding or defective, an action known to beekeepers as ‘balling the queen’, named for the ball of bees formed.

In the case of those honey bee species with open combs (e.g., A. dorsata), would-be predators are given a warning signal that takes the form of a “Mexican wave” that spreads as a ripple across a layer of bees densely packed on the surface of the comb when a threat is perceived, and consists of bees momentarily arching their bodies and flicking their wings.


Honey bees are known to communicate through many different chemicals and odors, as is common in insects, but also using specific behaviours that convey information about the quality and type of resources in the environment, and where these resources are located. The details of the signalling being used vary from species to species; for example, the two smallest species, Apis andreniformis and A. florea, dance on the upper surface of the comb, which is horizontal (not vertical, as in other species), and worker bees orient the dance in the actual compass direction of the resource to which they are recruiting.

Apis mellifera carnica honey bees use their antennae asymmetrically for social interactions with a strong lateral preference to use their right antenna.

*Photos took from our organic garden.

For more informations about bees and the importance that they have in the ecosystem read:



Spring is shied to coming out but a lot of insects friends and little animals start to come in our organic garden!

In this post and the futures we’ll discuss about them and the particular function that they have in the synergic life garden.

Today I want to present you Oedemeridae.

The family Oedemeridae is a cosmopolitan group of beetles commonly known as pollen-feeding beetles. There are some 100 genera and 1,500 species in the family, mostly associated with rotting wood as larvae, though adults are quite common on flowers. 

Oedemeridae may be defined as slender, soft-bodied beetles of medium size found mostly on flowers and foliage. The head lacks a narrow neck, the antennae are long and filiform, the pronotum lacks lateral edges and is much narrower than elytra, the tarsi are heteromerous with bilobed penultimate segment, the procoxal cavities are open behind and the procoxae are conical and contiguous.*

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The larvae of most genera are xylophagous, boring tunnels in spongy, damp wood in an advanced state of decomposition; thus they have little economic importance, with the exception of one species, the “wharf borer” (Nacerdes melanura), that is ever known to attain pest status, as its larvae bore into wet wood in coastal areas; larvae can also bore into wood located in the tidal zone so at times are submerged by seawater, and can damage docks, wharves, and pilings. Larvae of the genera Oedemeraand Stenostoma develop in dead stems of herbaceous plants.


Adults contain the toxic cantharidin in their corporal fluids as a defensive mechanism; several species show brilliant and metallic blue, green, gold or coppery, often combined with yellow, orange or red, aposematic colourations. In temperate regions, adults are mainly polyphagous pollen and nectar-feeding, and diurnal in activity. In tropical areas, most are nocturnal and are attracted to light.



*The pictures are taken from our organic garden!