Letter: The female is more deadly than the male

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The Independent Online
Sir: In the footnote to her first Reith lecture, Marina Warner refers to the myth of the cannibalistic praying mantis, citing scientific research that exonerates the female from devouring her mate alive after copulation on the grounds that the scientists previously observing them had not fed them.

Some years ago in Corfu, I and three friends sunning ourselves on our veranda found ourselves witnesses to precisely this ritual which was taking place on the rim of one our chairs. The female praying mantis appreciatively chomped through the uppper part of the male, while his lower parts continued their work. What was particularly striking was the way she kept his legs on one side for a final delicacy, eventually stuffing them inelegantly into her mouth with her front limbs.

There were no scientists to be seen.

Yours faithfully,

HILARY MACASKILL

London, N5

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