Defence responses to approaching objects were observed in the mantis Tenodera aridifolia. The mantis showed three kinds of behaviour, fixation, evasion and cryptic reaction. The cryptic reaction consisted of rapid retraction of the forelegs under the prothorax or rapid extending of the forelegs in the forward direction. Obstructing the mantis' sight decreased its response rates, suggesting that the visual stimuli generated by an approaching object elicited the cryptic reaction. The response rate of the cryptic reactions was highest for objects that approached on a direct collision course. Deviation in a horizontal direction from the direct collision course resulted in a reduced response. The response rate of the cryptic reaction increased as the approaching velocity of the object increased, and the rate decreased as the object ceased its approach at a greater distance from the mantis. These results suggest that the function of the observed cryptic reactions is defence against impending collisions. The possible role of the looming-sensitive neuron in the cryptic reaction is also discussed.
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