Coordination of the complete capture sequence of the praying mantis has been studied in detail using several specially developed photographic techniques. The mantis was able to attack prey throughout a large three-dimensional capture zone by changing body orientation relative to its perch. This orientation centred prey on the median plane and brought it within an attack zone relative to the prothorax. Alignment with the median plane simplifies the attack since the prey can then be localized using only two dimensions. The attack comprised several stereotyped components which together formed a single movement sequence of all six legs. Although too rapid for visual feedback, a simple mechanism permits steering of these movements to capture prey at particular locations within the attack zone. These findings are contrasted with those from studies of mantis visual behaviour and a simple mechanism is suggested for how prey location is encoded to produce steering of the attack.
- © 1990 by Company of Biologists