Does a Praying Mantis Have Teeth?

Praying mantis are small carnivorous insects that come across challenges in their lifespan while capturing living organisms. However, their bodies have adapted to deal with such challenges and evolved to make them powerful hunters. They have different mouthparts from animals.

Does a Praying Mantis Have Teeth? Praying mantis do not have teeth but have mandibles or jaws in their mouth used for biting, chewing, and devouring prey. They have two large mandibles and use them for grasping prey, biting predators, grooming bodies, capturing mating partners, handling eggs, and eating food.

All animals have teeth in their mouth for chewing and grinding food, but their shape and size vary according to their dietary habits. In the same way, praying mantis rely on their sharp mandibles for hunting, which involves capturing and devouring prey.

Do praying mantis have teeth?

Praying mantis have different physical or behavioral features from higher vertebrates because they have smaller bodies. They do not have a large mouth to accommodate a large number of teeth.

They have evolved bodies according to their feeding habits and developed specialized mouthparts suitable for hunting and devouring prey.

Their mouthparts are perfect according to their predatory lifestyle, as their mandibles work like scissors to cut and shred the captured organism.

Moreover, they can immobilize prey using strong teeth-like structures in the mouth and bite predators after swift strikes. They do not need grinding teeth to eat prey and digest their bodies.

Their mandibles support the crushing and disassembling of organisms into smaller parts that can easily get inside their mouth. Sometimes, their eating behavior only involves shredding or crushing.

Furthermore, they can easily digest smaller pieces produced by crushing of prey as their digestive enzymes help break internal bonds and pass them forward for the excretion of wastes.

How many teeth does a praying mantis have?

Praying mantis have mandibles instead of teeth used for almost a similar function in insects. The number of teeth in insects and vertebrates varies due to their different mouth sizes.

Larger animals have incisors, molars, and pre-molar teeth for crushing or grinding food that are not present in smaller insects with simpler bodies.

They have two large mandibles or barbed-like jaws instead of multiple teeth present inside their small mouth. These two mandibles are commonly used for cutting or tearing prey.

Their mandibles are large and sharp according to their body size but are challenging to see by other people. They have chewing or biting jaws instead of grinding teeth commonly present in mammals.

Higher mammals have almost 20 to 40 teeth that can be easily seen in their mouth, while these insects have two sharp mandibles adapted for feeding and hunting.

How do praying mantis use their mandibles?

Praying mantis need teeth or mandibles like other organisms because they have to break objects or tear their prey apart into pieces.

Grasping prey

One of the common functions of mandibles is grasping a prey animal because their diet involves living creatures. They are good fighters and hunt insects, invertebrates, arthropods, and smaller vertebrates for food.

It requires effort to hunt these living organisms after targeting them for several minutes to hours. Their raptorial legs are suitable for hunting and capturing prey, but jaws also help keep them in place.

They hold prey between spiked forelimbs and capture a part of their bodies within the mouth. Moreover, they dip both of their mandibles into the muscular bodies of prey animals.

Defense against predator

They use mandibles during defensive attacks when predators try to sting their bodies and transfer poison into their body tissues.

They do not attack any organism until they are responsible for causing a threat to their survival. They lack venom in their bodies, so they cannot cause toxicity in the predator’s body.

Commonly, they attain a praying position to threaten predators, but they also bite if this posture does not help deter predators. They apply force with their jaws and try to break the tissue layer.

Their mandibles can efficiently break thin tissue layers on the bodies of invertebrates, arthropods, and reptiles but are small enough to cause damage to higher vertebrates with hard skin layers.

Devour or chew prey

Praying mantis mandibles help them devour prey for easier consumption because their prey is sometimes large in size. It is not possible to consume them as a whole without tearing bodies.

They break bodies of snakes and hummingbirds that are many times larger than their own bodies. They begin to eat snakes from the middle region while holding their mouth between their legs.

In addition, they also chew the bodies of frogs and mice when they are alive and devour them slowly to eat their bodies. It is not possible for them to eat an entire frog, so they tear it into parts.

Grooming or cleaning

They keep bodies clean and remove the dirt particles or body fluids from their antennae and legs. The presence of dirt particles affects the sensitivity of their receptors on antennae.

They cannot smell chemical secretions without their antennae, which are covered with odor receptors. These are microstructures distributed all over their antennae and capture odor molecules.

Accordingly, they have to keep their antennae and legs clean to better recognize odors. They use mandibles to clean antennae by pulling them into jaws and slightly chewing their surface.

In the same way, they also use their jaws to groom their legs and bring each of their limbs inside their mouth. They move their legs in an up-and-down direction after pulling them down between their jaws.

Capture mating partners

Another use of mandibles in praying mantis is capturing the receptive female mantis for mating purposes. The males use their jaws to hold the female partners while trying to mate.

They mount on a female’s body and grasp it tightly using their legs and mandibles. It helps avoid deadly attacks from their partner if she is hungry or not interested in mating.

The female mantis is bigger in size, so their male partners have to mount strategically and hold them tightly to avoid cannibalistic behavior.

It is not possible for a male mantis to successfully mate with a female without grasping her large body tightly. There is a risk of becoming food for their partner if she has not eaten food for long.

Handling of eggs

They use teeth-like mandibles for handling eggs that appear differently but function in an almost similar manner. Many insects use their jaws to hold egg masses and shift them to a new location.

In the same way, they also carry an egg mass or ootheca in their mouth by holding it between jaws. It allows them to transfer eggs to a safe location if there is a threat of attack to them.

Can praying mantis move their jaws sideways?

Praying mantis can efficiently kill small prey or predator down by biting their muscular bodies. Their jaws are responsible for the formation of deep wounds in their bodies.

In addition, one of their distinguishing features is that these insects can turn their head and move their jaws sideways. This side-to-side movement helps them to tear up their food or prey organisms.

The wider cuts lead to the quick death of the captured organisms, as they cannot tolerate pain. They do not inject venom into the prey because their bodies lack venom glands.

Accordingly, they rely on mandibles and forelegs to pin down their prey and hold it in a way that their stinger cannot touch their bodies.

So, they rely on the strength of their jaws to cut or devour the bodies of organisms as they can efficiently move their mandibles sideways to make wider cuts on the body.