A fierce but discreet predator, it will stay still for hours waiting for an insect to come just a little bit too close.
People often get the term mantis and praying mantis mixed up, the praying mantis refers to a genus, the most common representant being the Mantis religiosa, mantis being the general term used for members of the order Mantodea.
But today, we’re going to focus on the ghost mantis, Phyllocrania paradoxa.
This small mantis has growths around its head which makes it look unusual. I personally compare them to demons, but others like to say that they look like aliens, or simply dead leaves.
In nature, they are located on the African continent and it’s islands. At the last stage, the males will measure 4-5cm (1,57”-1,96”) and the females will be 6-7cm (2,36”-2,75”). It’s relatively easy to distinguish the males and the females, in fact, the excrescence on the male’s head is longer and thinner than the female’s which is wider and more compact.
This mantis is easy to keep, I started with these ones myself, they have the advantage of being able to adapt to the maintenance conditions and they can also live in a group. Of course, if you don’t feed them, don’t be surprised if they eat each other.
Caring for a Ghost Mantis
A terrarium: The more specimens you’ll keep, the bigger it needs to be. It’s possible to separate each individual in 1 liter-cups, depending on whether you want to keep them as pets or breed them productively.
Hiding places: The easiest is to take dead branches, they will be used as a support for your mantids, but also for their egg capsules.
Live preys: You’ll need to adapt to the size of your mantids because they will be intimidated by the preys if they’re too big or you’ll have to feed them a lot more if they are too small.
For the temperature, I advise you to keep it around 25-30°C (77-86°F) during daytime, and 22-23°C (71,6-73,4°F) at night, the temperature shouldn’t drop down below 20°C (68°F) at night.
For the hygrometry, you should spray water once every 2 days to avoid any problem with the molts. This is not mandatory, but I do recommend it.
Ghost mantids prefer flying insects, yet they will accept other types of preys such as cockroaches, locusts if they’re smaller than them.
The ideal is to feed the young mantids with fruit flies and the adults with flies, always make sure to have a couple in the terrarium, especially if your mantids live all together, to avoid cannibalisme, otherwise it is less important because they can fast for a few days.
You will know that your mantis is adult once it has wings. So, it will be sexually mature 3 weeks after its final molt.
The female shouldn’t be aggressive towards the male, unless it is really hungry, but if you feed them both before, there shouldn’t be any problem.
The female lays 3 to 6 egg capsules on average. Their incubation is very simple, just keep the same maintenance conditions and don’t change anything, and by 1 month, up to 50 mantids will come out!
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