Mantids' reproductive organs are located at the tip of the abdomen. Many females are flightless and attract their mates by emitting a species-specific chemical, known as a pheromone. The male is much smaller than the female and performs a brief courtship ritual before alighting on the female's back to mate. A popular misconception is that the female mantis attacks and eats the male after he has fertilized her. This is true in capitivity but rare in the wild; scientists are still unsure exactly why this phenomena occurs.
Female mantids deposit batches of between 10 and 400 fertilized eggs using their ovipositor at the tip of the abdomen. The eggs are secured to stems, leaves, or other surfaces, with each egg batch housed in an ootheca (egg case) constructed from a frothy substance produced in the abdomen. Each egg is deposited in an individual compartment inside the ootheca, and each compartment has a one-way valve permitting the young insects to hatch with minimal effort. The ootheca hardens quickly, providing protection from parasitic insects, birds, and the sun.
Some species of mantis, such as the African Tara-chodula pantherina, construct long, narrow oothecas and guard their eggs lying over them. In about a month, wingless nymphs (young) emerge from the eggs, and look more like ants than mantids. This resemblance undoubtedly protects them from predatory birds, which seldom attack ants. Mantis nymphs are eaten by ants, which can wipe out an entire batch of young mantis nymphs. Surviving mantis nymphs molt several times, each time becoming more like the adult, with mature wings appearing after the final molt.