The head of a Unicorn Mantis
Arizona Unicorn Mantis :
The Arizona Unicorn Mantis, or Pseudovates arizonae is a stick-like praying mantis from North America. It carries the name “Unicorn Mantis” thanks to a small cone in the middle of his head, resembling a unicorn horn! If you take a closer look, you can see the mantis actually has two tiny “horns” next to each other.
Pseudovates arizonae occurs naturally in North America, especially Arizona. It is not common in captivity. Some other mantis species, like Phyllobates sp, are also referred to as Unicorn Mantis.
Appearance of the Arizona Unicorn Mantis
The Unicorn Mantis is dark brown with black and light brown stripes. The legs are striped in light and dark brown. The adults have green wings on a dark brown body, as if there are fresh leaves growing on a branch. On their heads they have a little horn (actually two cones close together). Their front legs are rather thin and slightly curved. The section between the forelegs and the rest of the legs and body is long, smooth and thin as a twig. Their camouflage as a stick is amazing.
Pseudovates arizonae will grow until about 6.5 to 7 cm long, with little difference in size between the sexes. The males are thinner with wings that are slightly longer than the abdomen. The females have a wider prothorax than the males and their wings extend to the end of the abdomen. Adult males have much longer antennae than the females.
a Pseudovates arizonae subadult female – Arizona Unicorn Mantis
Behavior of the Unicorn Mantis:
Pseudovates arizonae is a quiet species of praying mantis. It is a typical sit-and-wait predator. Relying on her camouflage it waits patiently until a prey comes along, waiting for an opportune moment to strike. Pseudovates arizonae preferably eat flies, which it can even scoop right out of the air!
Environmental conditions for keeping this species :
The ideal temperature is probably about 28 ° C, but can vary between 24 ° C and 33 ° C. At night the temperature can be allowed to drop until 18 ° C.
This species is not really demanding regarding air humidity. Spraying once every 4 days is sufficient to let them drink and stay moist enough to molt. A target humidity is 40% – 50%. As with other species: too much humidity is deadly in the long run!
As with all species of praying mantis, this species needs an enclosure that is at least 3 times the length of the animal in height, and at least 2x the length of the animal in width. For an adult this means is at least 21 cm in height and 15 cm in width. A nice size for a terrarium would be 25 x 25 x 30 cm or bigger, so there is room for lots of fake plants and perches.
It is best to feed your Unicorn Mantis only flying prey such as flies, moths and butterflies.
An Arizona Unicorn Mantis subadult female – Pseudovates arizonae
Appearance of the Egyptian Pygmy Mantis
An Egyptian Pygmy Mantis will become around one inch long when adult. The males and females are approximately the same size, with females being bulkier and heavier than the males. The color of this species of mantis can vary between light green, beige, light brown and dark brown. Egyptian Pygmy Mantises don’t have any special markings or color patterns on their body.
Group housing of Arizona Unicorn Mantises
This species is not very cannibalistic, but cannibalism can still happen. You can try to keep them together in a large enclosure with lots of food, but it is better to keep them in separate enclosures. The older they get the more chance there is that one eats the other.
How to start breeding with Unicorn Mantids
With some proper care and attention it is possible to breed the Arizona Unicorn Mantis is captivity. It is not an easy species to breed, as few people have succeeded. When you buy a Unicorn Mantis in the US it is probably caught in the wild.
The females of this species are slightly heavier and broader than the males. When they are older (L6) you can see that the antennae of the males are much thicker and longer than those of the females. You can also look at the number of segments on the abdomen of the mantis, as described here at Distinguishing males and females.
Approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the mantis reaches adulthood a mating attempt could be made. Make sure that both partners have eaten a lot in the days before the attempt. Usually Unicorn Mantids are not very aggressive among their own species, but a hungry female will not hesitate to eat the male. Mating can take several hours.
The problems in breeding lie mainly in the low fertilization rate and failed matings. The temperature seems to be important during mating, keeping them warmer than 30 ° C has been recommended by the people that managed to breed this species succesfully.
Arizona Unicorn Mantis
Egyptian Pygmy Mantis :
The Egyptian Pygmy Mantis, latin name Miomantis paykullii, is a small species of mantis from Africa. It can be found in the countries Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Kenia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Oeganda, Senegal and Zimbabwe.
There are many Miomantis species other than Miomantis paykullii, like Miomantis caffraand Miomantis alata. All are commonly referred to as Egyptian Pygmy Mantis. The species can not be cross bred but the way to keep and breed them is similar. That’s why I will only cover Miomantis paykullii in this website, it’s the most common Miomantis pet mantis.
An adult Egyptian Pygmy Mantis green variant female – Miomantis paykullii
An adult Egyptian Pygmy Mantis beige variant female – Miomantis paykullii
Behavior of Miomantis mantises
This species of mantis is pretty calm although they will actively stalk their prey when they notice it. A prey that seems a bit large for this mantis does not seem to bother Miomantis, they are rarely deterred from attacking prey. When disturbed by people or predators this mantis will run or fly away. There is no known defense behavior like death-feigning or showing colored markings.
Food for the Egyptian Pygmy Mantis
It’s easy to find food for your Egyptian Pygmy Mantis, as it eats almost all prey insects species that have the correct size. Fruitflies are favorite for Egyptian Pygmy Mantises of all sizes and ages. Adult Egyptian Pygmy Mantids can also eat small crickets, moths, green bottle flies and any other insect species that is around half the lenght of the mantis.
Temperature and humidity for keeping Egyptian Pygmy Mantids
The Egyptian Pygmy Mantis does not have very high standards for its surroundings. A temperature between 18 °C and 30 °C is best, with an optimal temperature of 25 °C. In the night you can allow the temperature to drop to a minimal of 15 °C. The air humidity does not have to be high for this mantis. The nymphs need a spraying of water around 3 times a week. The adults can do with less, around 2 times a week. Make sure the mantis can drink the water droplets. The ventilation of the terrarium or enclosure needs to be pretty good, for example one side of the enclosure consisting of mesh.
Miomantis paycullii needs, like all species of mantis, a terrarium or enclosure that is big enough for it to move around. Because the Egyptian Pygmy Mantis is just one inch long when adult, it won’t need too much space. An enclosure of 4 by 3 by 3 inches in size is enough for one adult Miomantis mantis. Give it plenty of sticks and decoration to walk on and hang from.
Egyptian Pygmy Mantids cannot be housed together as they will eat each other.
Adult female European Mantis – brown color morph
Green female Egyptian Pygmy Mantis adult
Reproduction in the Egyptian Pygmy Mantis
Getting your Miomantis couple to mate is very easy, although cannibalism could occur. First you need to make sure you have a male and female couple. Females are bulkier than the males and have wings that do not extent past the abdomen. Males have much longer wings and they also have long antennae.
u can keep the ootheca at the same temperature and humidity as the adult mantises. Make sure no molt can grow on the egg sack or in the enclosure.
Approximately two weeks after the final molt you can place the male and female together in a big enclosure. Make sure there are plenty of hiding places. It would be ideal if you can make sure the male notices the females presence before she notices him. Both mantises should have had plenty to eat in the days prior to the mating. If possible, feed the female a large prey item before introducing the male. This makes sure she is busy when the male approaches her. If a female responds aggressively to a male it’s better to remove him and try again on another day.
After mating the female will lay around 10 small beige ootheca. The first one usually comes a few days after mating, the others come around every 1 – 2 weeks depending on the food and the condition of the female. One mating is enough for many fertilized ootheca. From every ootheca round 15 nymphs are hatched. You can keep the ootheca at the same temperature and humidity as the adult mantises. Make sure no molt can grow on the egg sack or in the enclosure.
Miomantis females have an exeptional skill for mantises: even without mating with a male Miomantis they can produce eggs that hatch. These offspring will be exclusively female. The way of reproducting is called parthenogenesis. You might know it from stick insects. In mantises this is very rare. In Miomantis paykullii parthenogenesis is probably rare in nature because males are usually present and the offspring produced by parthenogenesis is much weaker than the “normal” nymphs.
European Mantis :
The European Mantis, or Mantis religiosa, is a mantis species originally from Europe but has established itself in North America too. It was imported from Europe to North America in the 1600’s to combat plant pest insects. It is seen as the archetype of a mantis.
Adult female European Mantis – brown color morph
European mantis adult male – green color morph
Appearance of the European Mantis
This species of praying mantis is light green, with a little variation in color tone. The species is easily distinguished from other species by the pattern on the inside of the front legs. Most species of praying mantis have small dots or specks at this part of its legs, but Mantis religiosa has a very clear pattern: at the top of the legs there is a black spot with a white dot in the middle. This mimics the eye of a predator. There are also yellow dots on this part of the forearm. The lower parts of the front legs have a yellow dot. The pictures will clarify this.
The females of this species become about 8 cm long, the males around 7 cm. The males are more slender and have longer wings than the females. The males have long antennae, the female has shorter ones.
This picture shows the markings on the forearms of a European Mantis female
This is an adult female European Mantis – Mantis religiosa
Behavior of the European Mantis :
Mantis religiosa praying mantises are quite fierce mantises. It actively chases after its prey once it is aware of it. But during the non-feeding hours they generally sit still and wait for a prey to show up. When you annoy the mantis, it can show its deimatic display. Then it will show the inside of the forearms and raise its wings. It is quite stressful for these animals, so do not chase it too much!
An adult female of the Budwing Mantis in threatening pose (deimatic display) – Parasphendale sp.
Brown color morph, adult female European Mantis
Environmental conditions for this species
The ideal temperature is between about 23 ° C – 28 ° C. At night you can allow it temperatures to drop a bit more.
This species does not have high demands regarding the humidity, but it is important that you allow the mantis to drink around 2 – 3 times a week. A target air humidity is about 40 to 65%.
As with all species of praying mantis, this species needs housing that is at least 3 times the length of the mantis in height, and at least 2x the length of the mantis in width. For an adult this means is at least 27 cm in height and 18 cm in width. A nice size for a terrarium would be 30 x 30 x 30 cm, so there is room for lots of fake plants and perches.
Group housing European Mantids
You cannot keep Mantis religiosa with more than one mantis per enclosure. If you put some mantids together, they will attack and eat each other. Small nymphs, until L3, can be kept together in one enclosure when you provide them with lots of food and space.
This is an adult female European Mantis – Mantis religiosa. The 50 Eurocent coin is for size reference.
Breeding the European Mantis :
It is possible to breed the European Mantis in captivity. It is not the most easy species, but it’s definitely possible for the insect enthousiast to breed the European Mantis.
First you will need a male and a female. Males and females can be distinguished from one another when they are adult or when they are nymphs. Adult males are more slender and have longer wings and longer antennae than the females. When the mantids are nymphs of the fourth instar or larger, you can use the segment counting method.
approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the mantids reach adulthood, a mating attempt could be made. The female should eat a lot before you introduce the male to her. If she acts aggressively towards him, remove him and try again later. Mating can take several hours, the male must subsequently be removed from the enclosure to make sure it will stay alive
The ootheca of this species that come from Europe need a diapause to develop. This is a period of cold in which the eggs inside the ootheca do not develop. When you do not put the ootheca for 6 to 8 weeks in a cold environment the nymphs that hatch from the ootheca will be weak. Check out our Mantis Ootheca Care Page for general information about keeping ootheca to hatch a lot of mantis nymphs.
Collecting mantids in nature
You could catch Mantis religiosa in the nature of Spain, France, Eastern Europe or North America… but why would you take something out of nature? Make sure you know how to take care of the mantis and think about why you are taking it. Maybe it is better to leave it in its natural habitat and buy a captive-bred mantis instead. This does not impact the natural population. In some countries Mantis religiosa is a protected species, catching them is illegal.
The budwing mantis, or more specifically Parasphendale affinis, is a popular species of praying mantis to keep as a pet. Of the Parasphendale genus, two species are being kept in captivity:Parasphendale affinis and Parasphendale argrionina. This caresheet deals with both of them. The difference between the species is hard to see and their needs are the same.
n nature, Parapshendale sp. occurs in East Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania). Many people in Europe, Japan and the US keep this mantis species as a pet.
Appearance of a Budwing Mantis :
This species of praying mantis is usually light to medium brown, but there are also very dark and beige variations. They have a lot of dark and light spots on the body and legs.
The females of this species are about 7 cm long, the males reach a size of just 4 cm. The adult females have wings, but they are rather short and cannot be used to fly. They reach to half of the abdomen. The wings are used in a deimatic display, in which the mantis will put its wings up and show the brightly colored underside of the wings. The underside of the wings is bright yellow-orange, and the inside of the front legs is also orange and but outwards to show to the predator that is threatening the mantis. This display is meant to scare away predators. The under wings of this species are black with white-pink veins.
The males have wings that reach to the end of their abdomen. They use their wings to fly and will not show the deimatic display.
An adult female of the Budwing Mantis in threatening pose (deimatic display) – Parasphendale sp.
Behavior of Parasphendale sp.
Parasphendale mantis species are a very aggressive kind of praying mantis. Its female is especially known for its voracity. She actively chases after her prey once she is aware of it.
If your irritate or grab this mantis, the animals show a dramatic threatening posture. Then it spreads its fore arms to the side so bright colors become visible and it will spread its wings so scared eyes to see.
Males of this species are easily scared and when adult will fly away from things that they perceive as threatening.
An adult female of the Budwing Mantis – Parasphendale sp.
Environmental conditions :
The ideal temperature for the Budwing mantis is about 26 ° C, but between 24 and 30 ° C it feels good too. At night you can let the temperature drop to around 18 ° C.
This species does not have high demands regarding the air humidity, but it is important to spray about two or three times a week to allow it to drink. A target air humidity is about 50% in a place with lots of ventilation.
As with all types of praying mantids, this species needs a cage of at least 3 times the length of the animal in height, and at least 2x the length of the animal in width. For an adult female this means at least 21 cm in height and 14 cm in width. A nice size for a terrarium would be 30 x 20 x 30 cm (hxwxd), so there is room for lots of fake plants and perches. Bigger is always better.
An adult female of the Budwing Mantis – Parasphendale sp.
Group housing Budwing mantids :
Because Parasphendale sp. mantids are such active predators, you cannot keep them together in the same enclosure. Sooner or later one will eat the other. Young nymphs can be kept together until L4 (fourth instar).
An adult male of the Budwing Mantis – Parasphendale sp.
Breeding the Budwing Mantis:
The budwing mantis can be bred pretty easily if taken proper care of them.
First you need to get an adult pair of a male and female mantis. Luckily it’s easy to see the difference with the Budwing Mantis. The females of this species are larger and wider than the males, this can already be seen when they are still a nymph. You can also use the Segment Counting Sexing Method. If this species reaches maturity, it can be seen in a glance which one is the male and which one is the female. Females are really big with short wings, while males are small and slender and have long wings.
Approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the last molt, you can introduce the male to the female. Make sure that the female eats very well before you put the male in her enclosure. The female can be quite aggressive to the male and could eat him before the mating. When the female is responding agressively to the male, it is better to remove him and try again an other time. Mating can take several hours, the male must subsequently be removed from the residence (to safe its life).
Deimatic display of an adult female of the Budwing Mantis – Parasphendale sp.
An adult Thistle Mantis – Blepharopsis mendica
Deimatic display seen from the back side of the mantis – Parasphendale sp.
Thistle Mantis :
The Thistle Mantis, or more specifically Blepharopsis mendica is a beautiful species of praying mantis from North Africa and the Canary Islands. This species is sometimes also called Small Devil’s Flower Mantis, but this could be confused with Devils Flower Mantis (Idolomantis diabolica) so should not be used.
Budwing Mantis L6 (Parasphendale sp.) eats cricket
This species of praying mantis is creamy-white to beige with light green stripes and light green “veins” on the wings as adults. On its back this mantis has a small pointed shield under which the forearms are being kept. The inside of the front legs are orange and blue white white spots. These colors are shown in the threatening posture to deter predators. Blepharopsis mendica will grow to a size of about 5 to 6 cm, with little difference in size between the sexes. The males are more slender with wings that reach a little bit over the end of the abdomen. The females are bulkier with a wider prothorax and with wings that extend to just the end of the abdomen. The females have thin antennae while adult males have feathered antennae (antennae with large thick “hairs” on it).
An adult Thistle Mantis – Blepharopsis mendica. This wing pattern is characteristic for this species.
Behavior of the Thistle Mantis :
Blepharopsis mendica is a quiet species of praying mantis. They are good at catching flying insects. Relying on its camouflage it waits patiently until an unsuspecting prey comes along. This species is not very aggressive and can be intimidate by large prey. Blepharopsis mendica can show a deimatic display in which it will raise its wings and hold its forearms in a sideways way. In this posture the mantis looks very big and the bright colors on the inside of the forearms is visible. This is meant to scare away predators.
An adult Thistle Mantis showing its deimatic display, meant to scare away predators
Food for B. mendica :
Blepharopsis mendica mainly eats flying insects in nature. Its raptory arms are especially designed to catch flying insects. In captivity it is also advised to only feed flying insects like moths and flies. This species can be fed exclusively on flies (e.g. soldierflies, blue bottle, blowflies). Some breeders say that feeding crickets to B. mendica is bad for their fertility and health.
An adult Thistle Mantis female – Blepharopsis mendica
The ideal temperature is about 34 ° C, but can vary between 30 ° C and 40 ° C. If you keep them at a cooler temperature they will not die immediately, but their growth and survival rate is reduced a lot. At night you have to keep the temperature at at least 21 °C.
The Thistle Mantis does not require high humidity but should rather be kept very dry. It needs approximately 30 to 40% humidity. You do have to spray with a little bit of water once a week to give them the opportunity to drink.
As with all species of praying mantis, the enclosure of this species needs to be at least 3 times the length of the animal in height, and at least 2x the length of the animal in width. For an adult this means is at least 18 cm in height and 12 cm in width. A nice size for a terrarium would be 30 x 20 x 30 cm, so there is room for lots of fake plants and perches. Dead leaves are a nice decoration in the enclosure of this mantis. This species is unable to walk on glass or plastic! The tank should have at least one side covered in cork or a rough surface to allow it to walk up in the tank.
Group housing Blepharopsis mendica mantids
The Thistle Mantis Blepharopsis mendica is not an extremely cannibalistic species, but will certainly hunt and eat its own kind if they do not find enough other food. It is therefore not advisable to house nymphs over L4 (fourth instar) together in one enclosure. The risk of cannibalism is very small, but with these predators will it always exist.
Breeding the Thistle Mantis :
This species can be hard to breed. If you manage to get this species to healthy adulthood, you can try mating them.
The females of this species are slightly larger and broader than males. When the mantids are nymphs this difference can be seen better with every molt. Also the antennae reveal the sex of the mantis. The antennae of the male are longer and much thicker than that of the female. You can also try the Segment Counting Method.
Approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the final molt, a mating attempt could be made. Make sure the female has eaten very well before you put the male with her. Usually the female is not too agressive, but it is certainly possible that she will attack the male. Mating can take several hours. If mating fails to produce fertilized eggs, it can help to keep the mantises at very high temperatures (35-40 degrees) a few days prior to mating. Especially the male can benefit from this.
Side note :
This species is harder to keep than most species, because of the special high temperatures. Therefore, this species is not recommended for the beginner. A more experienced or dedicated insect keeper would find an amazing species in the Thistle Mantis.