When a male praying mantis is in the mood to mate, it should pray for a breeze, scientists suggest.
With a wind beneath its wings, the creature has a better chance of mating, they say in a report published on newscientist.com.
Working on the premise that male Chinese mantids are more likely to move towards a female if the branches and leaves they are standing on are shaken by the wind, Hiroshi Watanabe and Eizi Yano of Kinki University in Nara, Japan, wondered if the males were using the shaking vegetation to camouflage their movements.
According to the site, the researchers placed male and female mantids on leaves that were sometimes buffeted by the breeze from a fan and sometimes still. The males reached the females significantly faster with the fan switched on.
To make sure the fan was not affecting the result in some other way, the team repeated the tests but held the leaves still. They say the females were more likely to detect males, even if the fan was on.
Watanabe suggests that the males used the cover provided by the wind to sneak up on the females.
It's not just about sex, either, the two say.
In a separate study, Watanabe and Yano observed mantids of both genders hunting German cockroaches. They captured the cockroaches faster when it was windy.
The scientists say the praying mantis "must be the most stressed animal on Earth" because there's a good chance a female mantis will bite his head off if he tries to mate with her.