(Devils Flower Mantis)
This beautiful mantis displays a milky tan shade as nymphs but take on a vibrant marbled green as adults. They are similar looking to the #9 mantids as nymphs and have lobed legs and abdomen.
Female B. mendica grow up to 7 cm long while males stop at 6 cm. After the 3rd molt, 8 segments can be counted on the males abdomen while 6 on the females with some trick. And as adults, the males have long feathery antennas and females have bigger abdomens.
This species of mantis will survive in fairly hot conditions. I keep mine at around 75-80F. Warmer temperature speeds up the metabolism of the mantis and will shorten its life span and in contrast, cooler temperature slows its metabolism and lengthens the life span, but both extremes could kill it. Keep humidity very low for this species around 30-40% is sufficient.
Their cage should be well ventilated with lots of twigs and leaves for the mantis to perch on. They don’t require much room as they are not active predators, but they do need room to molt. The suggested height is usually 3x the length of the mantis and 2x for the width. This species is prone to cannibalism so separate the nymphs as soon as possible.
This species prefer flying insects. Start out with fruit flies for nymphs and move to house flies for sub-adults and moths and other flying insects for adults. Crickets can be used, but it’s not a good staple diet for the mantids. Mealworms are especially nice and easy to handle and if it weren’t for their hard exoskeleton, they’d be a very good source of food. And it’s recommended that the size of the feeder insect does not exceed 1/3 the length of the mantis. Even though they are voracious and will attack any flying insects, do not offer them poisonous insects, wasps, or bees as these could seriously harm the mantis. To feed them you can either drop the food inside the tank and if the mantis is hungry, it’ll go after the prey or you can feed them by hand: use a pair of tweezers to hold the insect and wave it in front of the mantis, if it’s hungry, it will turn its head to stare directly at the insect and will snatch it from the tweezers. Feed them as much as it will eat in one day and do not fed it for another 2 days. As for watering, this type only takes it from their prey. They are found in arid regions of the earth and do not need watering.
A mantis will stop eating a few days prior to its molt. Do not be alarmed if one day your mantis is chowing down on a cricket and the next it refuses its food, it’s simply getting ready to shed its skin. Mantises molt every 2-3 weeks as babies and the time in between each molt increases as they get older so their last molt into adulthood can sometimes take as long as 4-5 weeks. It takes about 7 molts for females and 6 for males. That’s why males tend to mature earlier than females and they also die faster. During molting, it is vital that you do not disturb them. The mantis will hang upside down from a branch or the screen lid and will sometimes shake or spasm violently. Then after a while, it worms out of its old skin and will hang out to dry. Once it’s dried, it will resume eating and being its normal self.
Breeding this species can take time and patience. Wait until after 2 weeks of their last molt to pair up a male and a female. It would be best to mate the mantids after 3-4 weeks instead. 2 weeks may be too soon and may shorten the females lifespan. Increase the temperature drastically to 45 C (113 F) to stimulate the male to begin mating. The enclosure should have a big enough space for the male to escape and hide after mating. Introduce the female into the males enclosure and leave them alone. Or you could feed the female and during her feeding, put a male behind her and if he is ready, he will jump on her back and hold on for dear life. As she is busy with eating, she can’t grab him or throw him off of her. After a while of holding on (this could take a couple of days), the male will bend his abdomen down to connect with hers and mating will commence. Afterwards, he will run away and he must be removed or else he’ll be eaten.
After a week or so, the females will start laying her oothecae (plural for ootheca). This species can lay around 6-12 oothecae. After 4-6 weeks of incubation at 30 C and 50-60% humidity, 40-60 nymphs will hatch out. These can be fed fruit flies a day or two after hatching. Then continue to care for them as this care sheet suggests.