Appearance of the Devils Flower Mantis :
Newborn nymphs of Idolomantis diabolica are shiny black in color. This is probably to mimic ants in nature, to deter predators. Older nymphs are beige to light brown in color. The color is pretty dull and without a clear pattern. When adult the colors are completely different and very impressive. On the outside this mantis is white-and-green striped. On the inside of its predatory arms this mantis species has bright red, white, blue and black markings. When resting these colors cannot be seen, but when it feels threatened it will raise its body and point its arms upwards, showing the bright colors.
The amazing colors are not the only impressive feature of the appearance of the Devils Flower Mantis. The older the nymphs get, the more pronounced the appendages on the body become. On the back of the body a huge shield is formed, looking like a dry leaf. The head and abdomen has smaller protrusions mimicking dead leaves.
This mantis species will become very large. The body of an adult female will be about 10 cm in length. The males will get the same body length but have a more slender body and huge feathered antennae.
Devils Flower Mantis
This may be one of the most famous mantis species: The Devils Flower Mantis or Idolomantis diabolica. It’s amazing colors and size make it the most stunning mantis there is. It’s big and when adult has beautiful white with green markings, a big shield on its back and an amazing display behaviour showing red, white, black and blue markings.
This species is also infamous for its high price and difficulty in keeping and breeding. This mantis species occurs in Africa, most notably in Tanzania.
Devils Flower Mantis female nymph
Behavior of the Devils Flower Mantis
Although this mantis looks very impressive, deep down inside it is a lot less brave then you would guess. This species of mantis is very skittish and is stressed out easily. A stress reaction of this mantis consists of either running away in a panic frenzy, bumping into anything around it in the enclosure, or of showing its beautiful deimatic display. An Idolomantis diabolica mantis can get stressed by being handled and by being disturbed by people or pets close to its enclosure. When not disturbed this species is very quiet and will generally not move. It will grab prey insects quickly when they come close by, but they generally will not move to stalk them. They are a true sit-and-wait predator.
My Devils Flower Mantis doing its deimatic display in its cage
The behavior this species is known most for is its deimatic display. Deimatic display is the name for any pattern of threatening or startling behavior, such as suddenly displaying conspicuous eye spots, in order to scare off or momentarily distract a predator. The Devils Flower Mantis shows a deimatic display not often seen in other species. It will raise its front legs and tilt them outward. This exposes the area on the inside of the legs. This area is very wide and brightly colored in red, white, blue and black. The mantis will move its body and arms left and right to confuse and/or scare its predator. Adult Idolomantis diabolica mantises will also open up their wings to appear larger.
Idolomantis diabolica young nymph
Temperature and humidity for the Devils Flower Mantis
Food for Idolomantis diabolica :
The Devils Flower Mantis only eats flies. It can eat other insects, but these are harmful to the mantis and should be avoided. Young nymphs will eat fruit flies, older nymphs will eat blue bottle flies, green bottle flies and moths. Any mosquitoes or other small flying insects are also eagerly eaten by this mantis.
This mantis needs a continues supply of flies. Do not let this species without prey for more then two days. But don’t crowd the enclosure with flies, this will greatly disturb this skittish mantis and will disrupt correct molting.
The ideal temperature for the Devils Flower Mantis is very high, around 35 °C (close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit). You can vary it between 32 °C and 40 °C. In this night you can lower the temperature to 20 °C. The best way to heat the enclosure is by using light bulbs.
Air humidity is very important for Idolomantis diabolica. It needs a high air humidity, but also a lot of air circulation. The best method is to open up the cage for ventilation during the day and closing it during the night. In the evening you can spray the enclosure to increase air humidity. This species is one of the hardest species to keep, many times molt or unknown reasons will cause allIdolomantis nymphs to die before adulthood.
Housing Idolomantis diabolica:
Like any mantis species, the cage for Idolomantis needs to be at least 3 times the length of the mantis in height and 2 times the length of the mantis in width. Devils Flower Mantis need a lot of space, so its better to increase the size of the enclosure some more. For an adult Idolomantis you should provide at least 40 cm in height and 30 cm in width. This species can be housed together as cannibalism is minimal in this species. If you choose to keep these mantises in one enclosure, make sure its big enough for all of them. The bigger the better.
Decorate the enclosure with a lot of sticks and dry leaves. This mantis really appreciates hiding material like dry leaves because of its skittish nature. Devils Flower Mantis is unable to walk on glass. Its feet lack the “suction cup” enabling other mantis species to walk on glass and other smooth surfaces. therefore you need to provide this mantis with mesh housing or with a lot of sticks and rough surfaces to climb on and hang from when molting.
Breeding Idolomantis diabolica :
Breeding the Devils Flower Mantis is a challenge. First you need to find an adult pair. The best way to distinguish males and females when they are adult is by looking at the antennae. The males have long a feathery ones, the females have thin and short ones. The wings of the males are also much longer than the wings of the females. When this mantis is not yet adult you can see the difference between males and females by counting the number of abdominal segments.
Around 2 to 4 weeks after reaching adulthood the Devils Flower Mantis is mature enough to mate. If you house them together, they will know when to make their move. Make sure both the male and female have had plenty of flies to eat. If you don’t house them together, this is the time to do so. Because this species is so skittish, introducing the male to the enclosure of the female will provide enough stress for it to not be in the mood. Don’t wait for mating, it will happen naturally. Usually at night.
Female Devils Flower Mantises produce around 7 foamy egg sacks called ootheca. The first one will be produced a few days after mating, the others every 2 – 3 weeks. You can keep the ootheca on the spot that the female choose for it. You can remove the adult mantises from this enclosure when the ootheca is close to hatching. Adults will eat younger nymphs of the same species, or their own offspring. If you want to remove the ootheca, you can remove them 3 days after they are produced. Keep them in a container with the same conditions as you keep the adults. Molt is killer #1 for ootheca, so make sure the container is properly ventilated.
Brown subadult female Wandering Violin Mantis
More pictures of the Devils Flowers Mantis
Idolomantis diabolica adult female L9 molt
Wandering Violin Mantis
The Wandering Violin Mantis is one of the most amazing looking mantis species. It is a large mantis with amazing camouflage. It’s body has a lot of appendages that look like dried leaves and its body is long and thin to resemble a wooden stick. The Latin name of the Wandering Violin mantis is Gongylus gongylodes.
Gongylus gongylodes natural habitat is in India and Sri Lanka. It’s not an easy mantis to keep as a pet, but it’s amazing to see it.
Wandering Violin subadult Male
Breeding and reproduction in the Wandering Violin Mantis
Because the Wandering Violin Mantis can live in groups all its live, breeding is simple! If you manage to get healthy adults, that is. It can be hard to raise this mantis species because they are very sensitive to temperature, food quality and humidity.
You can easily see the difference between male and female Wandering Violin Mantises. As young nymphs it’s impossible, but when they get older their bodies change. The older female nymphs are a bit more bulky and have short antennae. The older male nymphs are more slender and have thick long antennae. When adult the antennae are very different; the female kept the same short antennae but the male will get huge feathered antennae. The adult males are also thinner and more slender than the females.
If you have a male and female Wandering Violin Mantis in the same enclosure, they will mate when they are adult for at least 2 weeks. After mating the female will lay egg sacs called ootheca. Every ootheca has around 30 to 40 eggs. She does not need to mate again after the first time, once mated she will store the sperm to fertilize all her future eggs with. Keep the ootheca the same as the adults, but make sure to keep the air humidity a bit higher around the time of birth of the nymphs. It will take 4 to 7 weeks before the eggs hatch.
Appearance of the Wandering Violin Mantis
The Wandering Violin Mantis got its name because the adults look a bit like a violin. Their body would resemble the soundboard of a violin, the head would be the top of the violin and the long and thin midsection of the mantis would be the neck of the violin.
Gongylus gongylodes comes in different color variants ranging from light brown to dark brown. Its body has all kinds of appendages that resemble dried leaves. This serves as camouflage for the mantis. Young nymphs have less pronounced camouflage than the older nymphs and adults. Females will reach a body length of 10 centimeters, males will reach a length of around 9 cm (3 inches).
When the nymphs are born they already resemble the parents in body shape. Their color is light brown.
Behavior of the Wandering Violin Mantis
This mantis species is a quit mantis, a typical sit-and-wait predator. It won’t move around a lot. It’s not aggressive at all, but can be easily intimidated. The adults or subadults will show a deimatic display when they feel threatened; they will raise their front arms and show a black and pink spot. This is supposed to scare away predators. Young nymphs will not do this, if threatened they will try to run.
The Wandering Violin Mantis is specialized in catching flying insects. It can grab a fly straight out of the air!
Subadult male Wandering Violin Mantis
Group housing this mantis species
This is one of the few mantis species that can be kept in groups safely all their lives. They prefer to eat flying prey and will therefore leave each other alone. Don’t misunderstand this, when hungry they will definately turn to each other. Cannibalism can happen when there is not enough food, especially if the mantises are still young.
Two nymphs of the Wandering Violin Mantis
Environmental conditions and food
The Wandering Violin Mantis needs special environmental conditions. It needs high temperatures and low air humidity. The ideal temperature is 35 °C, but you could vary between 30 °C and 40 °C. In the night the temperatures are allowed to drop to around 20 °C. Heating with a lamp is the best option for this species.
If you keep this mantis in a net cage you can spray water every 3 days. If you keep Wandering Violins in a glass cage you can spray once a week.
This mantis species is specialized in eating flying insects. It will generally not chase crickets or other crawling bugs. It’s even likely that feeding crickets with tweezers to Gongylus gongylodes will result in bad health for this mantis. Feed your mantis live flies; first fruit flies and when the mantis gets older you can feed it house flies. Make sure this mantis eats every day or at least every two days. Don’t put a crazy amount of flies in the enclosure, if the mantis is no longer hungry a lot of flies flying around can make the mantis stressed.
Wandering Violin subadult Male
Wandering Violin Mantis photo
Violin Praying Mantis Care (Gongylus gongylodes)
The Chinese Mantis is a very common mantis species. Originally it only occurred in Asia, but because of international commerce it has been introduced in North America. There this species is thriving and can be found in almost the whole continent.
The Latin name of the Chinese mantis is Tenodera sinensis. It can be kept as a pet and is easy to care for. Many people in the United States and Asia find this mantis in nature. You can enjoy the strange beauty of this insect by making pictures, visiting it in the plant where it is living in or by bringing it indoors as a pet.
Appearance of the Chinese mantis:
How to recognise a Chinese mantis? Well an adult Chinese mantis is brown in color with brown wings with a green edge. The body shape is like a “stereotype” mantis without any special decorative or camoeflaging appendages. It will reach a size of around 9 cm (almost 4 inch). A nymph (young mantis) of the Chinese mantis is brown and does not have any wings or special appendages. The adult female is larger and heavier than the male, but both sexes look pretty much the same throughout there life. You can distinquish males and females by the length of the antennae (males have longer) and by counting the segments on their abdomen like so.
Chinese Mantis during dinner
Behavior of the Chinese mantis
A Chinese mantis is usually pretty docile and quiet. It won’t walk around a lot if it gets enough food. It will stalk a prey around its cage if you keep it as a pet. It is not an aggressive praying mantis, but it can strike a defence pose when threatened.
Environmental conditions for the Chinese mantis as a pet :
The Chinese Mantis is a very easy mantis to take care of, because it does not require a lot of special temperatures or humidity. The ideal temperature is about 25 °C, but a temperature between 22 and 30 ° C is perfect too. At night the temperature can be allow to drop, but it should be at least 17 ° C to ensure proper development. When exposed to temperatures below 8 °C a Chinese mantis may not survive.
The Chinese Mantis does not need a lot of humidity. Keep the mantis in a well ventilated enclosure and spray with water two times a week. The mantis will drink from the water droplets when it is thirsty.
Want to read more about feeding and keeping a Chinese mantis? You can read all about it on the general pages of caring for a mantis as a pet.
Female Chinese mantis (adult)
Group housing as pets
Chinese mantids are ferocious predators that will also prey on each other. Do not keep Chinese mantids together in the same cage. Very young nymphs can be kept together, but even in young ones cannibalism can occur. Make sure they have enough to eat.
Breeding and reproduction of the Chinese Mantis :
You can breed Chinese mantises in captivity. Some companies breed this mantis species to sell them as natural predators in greenhouses. The companies sell the egg sacs (ootheca) to greenhouse farmers. When the young mantises hatch in the greenhouse they will eat all pest insects like aphids and small flies.
If you want to breed Tenodera sinensis yourself, you need a male and a female that are full grown for at least 2 weeks. How to see if you have both sexes, you can use this sexing method. Then you need to place the male and female together in one enclosure. Make sure the female has eaten A LOT before you do
Chinese mantis egg sac
this. Even then it is possible that the female will eat the male before, during or after mating. If mating has occured you should separate both mantises again. After one mating the female mantis will produce fertilized eggs for the rest of her life. She will produce foam-like egg sacs called ootheca. In one egg sac of a Chinese mantis you can find between 30 and 100 eggs. She will produce 3 to 7 egg sacs in her life if she has enough food.
Keep the egg sac in the same conditions as you keep the adult mantis. The eggs will hatch in around 6 weeks. If you plan to release the baby mantises into nature, make sure the eggs do not hatch in winter. If you want to postphone hatching of the eggs you should keep the ootheca at 8 °C (or between 6 to 10 °C), like in your attic, basement or garden house. If you find an ootheca in nature you can leave it there, the mother knows what she is doing and probably the eggs will be safe in winter. Want to read more about caring for mantis eggs? Read the page about that.
A wild female Chinese mantis eating
All pictures on this page are made by Robert Smith
Adult Chinese Mantis