Devil's Flower Mantis Care Sheet
The Devil's Flower Mantis or Giant Devil's Flower Mantis, also known by the scientific name Idolomantis diabolica is a native of Tanzania and considered to be one of the largest praying mantis species that resemble a flower. It is often confused with the small devil's flower mantis (Blepharopsis mendica) which is also called as Devil's flower mantis by many people. The gorgeous looks of the Devil's flower mantis, its size and its rarity has also earned it the name of "King of all mantids". These features have made this creature one of the most sought after species of mantids to be kept as pets.
The devil's flower mantis is a stunning and large sized insect that mimics a flower. It is characterized by white, brown, burgundy, and green colorations on its body. Its brilliant green wing case has a large ocellus in the center. Its green or brown colored body together with leafy projections on its legs makes this insect a true master of disguise, allowing it to blend with its surroundings. As with all other species of mantises, the male has 8 segments on its abdomen whereas the female has 6 or 7. This difference in the number of segments helps in the easy determination of the sex of the insect. Another difference lies in the appearance of the antennae. The antenna of the male is feathery and split while that of the female is long, slender and straight. Both male and female of this species, has fully grown wings that extends over the abdomen.
This insect is not a very active one and you will often notice your pet mantis spending hours or even days sitting in the same spot. They use their excellent camouflage skills as a means of defending themselves from predators and also to hunt down their prey.
Being a native of Tanzania, the devil's flower mantis would have to be kept in higher temperatures than most other species of mantis. The best temperature range for this insect would be 25 to 35 degree C. Any variation from this temperature range is not desirable. The high heat can be maintained inside your pet's enclosure by using a heat lamp or heat mat. As adults, humidity is not an important factor and so spraying is not required. However, in order to avoid problems during shedding, it would be a good idea to spray the enclosure occasionally. The devil's flower mantis has a rather complex structure and so a little misting will help to soften the skin, making it a lot easier for the insect to shed its skin.
Nymphs of this species can be housed in polystyrene cups with covers secured with an elastic band. This mantis can grow into a large size and so at this stage they should be moved in to a large mesh cage which is at least 3 times the height of the mantis. The large size of the cage also ensures proper molting. Since the mantis may sit in the same spot for days, it would be a good idea to provide perching branches or twigs inside the enclosure. Silk plants and flowers can be placed inside the cage as foliage and this would also help to simulate the natural environment of the insect. Make sure not to overcrowd the enclosure with too much foliage. In order to maintain the desired humidity levels, a substrate of soil, compressed coconut fiber or peat can be used. Avoid housing more than one mantis in the same cage as they can be cannibalistic.
Nymphs can be offered crawling insects and fruit flies but the adults prefer to feed mostly on flying insects such as moths, butterflies, houseflies, fruit flies, beetles, curly wing flies, lacewings green bottle and blue bottle flies. As adults they do not take non-flying insects like crickets, locusts, and mealworms. In fact these ground dwelling insects are not suitable enough to be included in your pet mantis's diet as they contain certain chemicals that have been found to hinder the female from producing foam for a good ootheca or egg case. Feeding your pet with gut loaded flies is the best way to provided nutrition to the mantis. Gut loading the flies can be done very easily. First of all keep the pupae of the flies in a ventilated container with a mesh lid. As the flies hatch, place a kitchen towel soaked in warm water and honey on top of the mesh lid. The newly hatched flies start feeding off this mixture and after a few days they will become nutritious enough to be fed to your pet. If you are offering your mantis insects caught from the wild, you can avoid this procedure as they are already gut loaded.
The male mantis can be introduced in to the female's enclosure 2 or 3 weeks after their final molting. Since the female of this species exhibit sexual cannibalism, it is highly essential that you feed her well enough before and during mating. This is important to prevent her from eating the male. After mating, the female lay eggs in a foamy mass called the ootheca which hardens and offers protection to the eggs. The ootheca has to be well insulated from extreme temperature variations during the incubation period which may vary from 30 to 60 days. It is ideal to provide the ootheca with the same temperature and humidity range as that would be provided for the adults.
If provided with the desired temperature, humidity and proper housing, the devil's mantis will undergo molting easily. The male mantis will mature into an adult in 7 molts whereas the female mantis requires 8 molts. It hangs upside down while molting and it would be better to leave it undisturbed during this process. Your pet will stop eating 1 or 2 days prior to its molting. It will resume feeding a few days after it has completed shedding its skin.
In spite of the fact that the devil's flower mantis is one of the most beautiful and highly preferred mantids in captivity, it is not for beginners. Breeding this mantis and incubating its ootheca is rather difficult when compared to other mantids. When it comes to feeding the insect, beginners may find it slightly difficult since the adult mantis feeds only on flying insects. Therefore, unless you have some experience rearing mantises, keeping a devil's flower mantis can sometimes turn out to be a failure. However for experienced mantis keepers, this extraordinary creature is definitely a must for your collection.
Our Mantis care sheet makes it simple to care for this fun and educational pet.