This large-eyed mantis is named for the short wings that the females possess. When threatened, they will stretch out their arms to reveal bright coloring and if they are adults, they will also unfurl their wings. Their coloration ranges from light brown to grayish brown there are some color morphs that can result in a green adult, but that is rare. I was also told about the difference between P. affinis and P. agrionina (as I used to have this species labeled as P. affinis)…there is one sure-fire way to tell, underneath the fore wings of the P. agrionina should be orange and black striping while the P. affinis should have an all black coloring. Thank you very much Jesse for telling me this!
Females grow up to 6-7 cm long while males stop at 3-4 cm. After the 2nd molt, 8 segments can be counted on the males abdomen while 6 on the females. An adult females wings only extend to half of the abdomen while the males have full usable wings with long antennas. The sexual dimorphism in this species is very apparent, males are very small and slender compared to the females and can be sexed at a young age.
This species of mantis fare well at room temperature. It’s best to keep it around 25-30 C (77-86 F). A heat mat or heat lamp may be used to maintain the desired temperature. Keep the temperature cooler at night to lengthen the lifespan of the mantis. 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 at around 60%.
Their cage should be well ventilated with thick twigs for the mantis to perch on. This species is an active predator and will stalk its prey and pounce on it from above. Therefore, it’s recommended to give it some space to roam. The suggested size is an enclosure with length, width, and hight that is at least 3x the mantids length. For example, a 1 inch mantid should not be kept in any cups or other enclosures smaller than 3x3x3 inches. This species is very aggressive to each other and very cannibalistic so they should not be kept together unless during courtship.
This species are very voracious. Crickets, cockroaches, and mealworms make a good diet. It’s recommended that the size of the feeder insect does not exceed 1/3 the length of the mantis, but this mantis will tackle prey as big as itself. Even though they are voracious and will attack anything, do not offer them poisonous insects or wasps or bees as these could seriously harm the mantis. To feed them, just drop the insect in the enclosure and mantis will make short work of it. For non-moving prey like mealworms, these can be pierced to excrete juices and offered by tweezers to the mantis just put it to their mouth and they will grab onto the prey if they like it. This species is very prone to overeating. Watch their abdomen, if it is very inflated, stop feeding them for a couple of days, too much food could result in death for the mantids (although rare). As for watering, this type will get its fluid from its food, but an occasional spraying could be useful.
A mantis will stop eating a day or 2 (sometimes more) prior to its molt. They molt about every 2 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 3-4 weeks. It takes about 8 molts for females and 7 for males. That’s why males tend to mature earlier than females and they also die faster. To pair up a male and female, speed up the growth rate of the females while slowing down the males with cooler temperature and less feedings once the female has molted into an adult, speed up the males growth to molt him out. During molting, it is vital that you do not disturb them. Spray the enclosure every day to keep the humidity levels safe. Cease spraying once it has initiated the molting process. 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 has molted, wait a day or 2 to feed the mantid.
They can be a challenge to breed due to the size difference in males and females. A minimum of two weeks after their final moult, introduce the female into the male’s enclosure near him. It may be best to mate the mantids after 3-4 weeks instead. Two weeks may be too soon and the female may not be receptive. Make sure that she is very well fed prior to this. Also make sure that the male is mature. Immature males will refuse to breed and will just run away. If he is ready, her presence would attract his attention and he’ll try to make his move. It could take hours before he does anything though. The best way to initiate breeding for this species is to offer the female a prey item and while she is busy, introduce the male behind her and if he is ready, he will jump on her back. As she is busy with eating, she can’t grab him or throw him off of her. A mature female will remain calm and allow him to attempt to mate with her. After a while of holding on, the male will feel confident and will bend his abdomen down to connect with hers and mating will commence. The older the female, the more receptive she will likely be to mating. Older males also generally initiate mating much quicker than younger males. Mating can last hours. Afterwards, he will run away and he must be removed or else he’ll be eaten.
After 3-4 weeks or so as an adult, the female may start to lay her first ootheca (mated or not). This species can lay around 4-6 oothecae. After 4-6 weeks of incubation at 30 C (86 F) and 70-80% humidity with an occasional misting, 100-150 nymphs will hatch out. These can be fed fruit flies a day or two after hatching the moving onto pinhead crickets and so on. Then continue to care for them as this care sheet suggests.
Additional Notes: (Log by Evan)
I’ve observed this species to be very active. They will seek out their prey and chase it down. Females are very voracious and will attack anything. A mated female once did not lay an ootheca for over 2 weeks until she was mated again. Then she laid a very large ootheca larger than herself even. This species hasn’t shown any sign of exhaustion and took food greedily after laying the ootheca. It laid another one about 2 weeks later and once again ate voraciously to regenerate herself although she was more picky and only ate the front end of the cricket and dropping the abdomen. The egg cases were laid at the top of the lid and not on any branches provided.
The nymphs hatch out pitch black and are very jumpy. They don’t eat as much as I thought they would. They are already on a diet of large fruit flies (drosophila hydei) which almost seems too big for them, but hungry nymphs readily tackle the flies. And the larger prey ensures that they get a full meal each feeding.
Their first molt comes as early as 9 days with proper care. There are few deaths and most make it to their first shed. The newly emerged nymph has larger eyeballs and longer legs. They are very active and take food as soon as one day after the shed. They haven’t shown any signs of aggression so they are still kept together.
They shed their 2nd molt in as little as 7 days. The much larger nymphs can now be sexed with some trick. They are still on the large fruit flies diet which seems to fit in their large arms perfectly.
It took a well fed female only 11 days to molt between her 4th and 5th molt. However, I’ve experienced first hand the results of overeating. The female indulged herself on a large cricket and now looks sick. She never recovered and died soon after.
It’s been a while since I updated…the last molt took about 3 weeks for the females and about 4 weeks for the males…and I have paired up the male with the female. After copulation, a white substance was found beneath the female…it’s probably the spermatophore. I will attempt to remate the female again just in case.