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How to Care for Your Orchid Mantis

How to Care for Your Orchid Mantis

The orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) is a small, diurnal, carnivorous invertebrate primarily native to southeast Asia. They are usually found near clusters of white and pink flowers, where their camouflage serves them best, but they also spend time in trees and shrubs.

Orchid mantises are spectacular-looking mantises with bodies that resemble a cluster of flower petals in both shape and coloring. Coloring varies from white to pink, and may be influenced by local environmental factors. Males are more likely to have yellow-brown coloring. Females grow to 2-3”, while males are much smaller — just 1”! Both males and females have functional wings.

Orchid mantises are intermediate-level pet invertebrates. Total lifespan is up to 5-9 months, depending on sex and the temperature at which it’s kept.

How much space do orchid mantises need?

The general rule with housing praying mantises is that the enclosure length and width should be at least twice that of the mantis, and the height should be at least three times the mantis’ length. 32oz deli cups with fabric vented lids often work well for juveniles. 

Adults and subadults should be housed in a Kritter Keeper, terrarium, or mesh box. The minimum dimensions of this enclosure will depend on your mantis’ sex. If male, then a 32oz deli cup is likely to still house them quite well. If female, however, you will need something at least 6”L x 6”W x 9”H, although larger is optimal.

Orchid mantises should not be housed in groups, as cannibalism is likely.

Do orchid mantises need special lighting?

As long as the mantis’ enclosure is in a room that receives ~12 hours/day of artificial or bright natural light, then additional lighting equipment is unlikely to be necessary. However, if it is being kept in a dark room or the terrarium contains live plants, then ~6500K fluorescent or LED illumination is required.

Do not put mantis enclosures on windowsills, as the sunlight can make temperatures inside the enclosure lethally hot!

What basking temperatures do orchid mantises need?

Orchid mantises usually do well between 77-85°F, so they need to be kept warmer than room temperature. Temperatures should not drop lower than 70 or higher than 90°F. Ideal ambient temperature for nymphs is 78-82°F when possible. Keep track of the temperatures inside your enclosure with a digital thermometer like the Zoo Med Digital Thermometer & Humidity Gauge, with the probe placed in the middle. 

It’s best practice to provide a temperature gradient within the enclosure so they can self-regulate their body temperature according to their needs and preference. Of course, this can be very difficult with small enclosures. To prevent potential overheating, avoid using heat sources with mantis nymphs. However, it should be safe to use a small heat lamp in a full-size mantis enclosure. 

To provide a “basking spot” for your orchid mantis, use a Zoo Med Nano Dome Lamp Fixture with a low-wattage heat bulb like the 25w Zoo Med Nano Basking Spot or similar. Place this on the extreme left or right of the enclosure. Do not place the lamp on top of the mesh, as this can burn your mantis. Instead, suspend the lamp from a Zoo Med Reptile Lamp Stand or similar. The heat lamp should be turned off every night.

Note that heat lamps should not be used with Kritter Keepers or other plastic-top enclosures.

What humidity levels do orchid mantises need?

Humidity is very important for successfully keeping praying mantises as pets, as it helps ensure successful molting and general wellbeing. The orchid mantis requires average humidity levels of 60-80% to stay healthy.

To increase and maintain healthy humidity levels, lightly mist your mantis’ enclosure with a spray bottle at least 2x/day. If you are using a mesh rather than glass/plastic enclosure, then you will likely need to spray more heavily and/or more often. Allow the enclosure to dry out before misting again.

Humidity levels should be monitored with a Zoo Med Digital Thermometer & Humidity Gauge or similar with the probe placed in the middle of the enclosure. 

What substrate is good for orchid mantises?

Substrate is important to an orchid mantis setup because it helps maintain healthy humidity levels. Many mantis keepers prefer to use a bioactive soil substrate with springtails, isopods, beneficial bacteria and fungi, and live plants because it makes it easier to keep the enclosure clean. However, bioactive can be complicated to get right if you’re new to it, so here are some other substrate options:

You don’t need very much substrate. Depending on the size of the enclosure, 1-2” should be plenty. However, you will need more for the plants’ roots if you plan to create a bioactive setup.

To keep your orchid mantis’ enclosure clean, replace the substrate weekly and completely rinse out the enclosure and décor with hot water. Don’t use soap or disinfectants, as the residue may harm your pet!

What décor can you use in an orchid mantis terrarium?

Orchid mantises like having things to climb and hide behind in their enclosure. This encourages natural behaviors, which makes them more fun to watch, and decreases stress, which in turn increases lifespan. Here are some ideas:

Flowers make particularly good decor for this species by highlighting their impressive camouflage. Climbing objects should be arranged at a variety of angles to give your mantis options. Hot glue is excellent for adhering climbing objects and artificial foliage to terrarium walls.

Make sure to leave an open space at the top of the enclosure at least twice the height of your mantis for molting.

What do orchid mantises eat?

Praying mantises are carnivorous, which means that they eat other insects and sometimes even small animals. Avoid overfeeding, as this will shorten your pet’s lifespan. Food should be offered every other day, as much as your mantis will take — they stop eating when they’re full. (Note that praying mantises will refuse food for 1-2 days before molting.)

As a general rule, feeders should be live and no larger than 1/2 of the mantis’ length. Because orchid mantises are ambush hunters and prefer not to chase down their prey, flying insects and insects that can climb up the walls of the enclosure are the best. Options include:

Due to parasite/disease concerns, it’s generally considered best practice to avoid using crickets as feeders for praying mantises. Uneaten prey should be removed from the enclosure after 24 hours.

Orchid mantises are likely to benefit from being fed honey mixed with a bit of bee pollen powder at least once a week. You can dust the feeder insects with bee pollen powder, or offer a dab of mixture directly to the mantis on the tip of a chopstick.

All feeders should be generously hydrated and gutloaded for at least 24 hours prior to offering to your mantis. This makes sure that your pet gets the best nutrition possible from its meal. Good foods for feeder insects include:

Another way to make sure your mantis gets balanced nutrition is to offer a wide variety of different types of feeder insects.

Do orchid mantises like to be handled?

Generally speaking, it’s best practice not to handle pet invertebrates very much, if at all, and this certainly applies to the orchid mantis. Instead, enjoy the beauty of this incredible animal!

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please do further research with high-quality sources to obtain additional information on caring for this species.

"Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus)" by Frupus is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.

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