10 Interesting Facts About Ghost Mantis
Mantids are some of the scariest creatures in the insect kingdom, along with other popular names like the Tarantula Hawk wasp, fire ant, Giant centipede, and others. Mantids are carnivorous insects that can consume a large variety of prey. They are ambush predators that like to lay still and let prey come to them.
They may also change their position slowly from place to place to get closer to areas with higher food potential.
Male mantids can also fly to cover large distances faster in search for females ready to mate. Female mantids are too heavy for their tiny, weak wings to support their bodies.
Today, we will discuss the Ghost Mantis. What species of mantis is this, and what are the most important and interesting facts to learn about the Ghost Mantis? Here’s 10 of these facts that should shed enough light on this mantid species:
Taking Invisibility to Another Level
The Ghost Mantis draws its name from its unparalleled ability to simply disappear in its habitat. The Ghost Mantis is smaller than other mantids, including the Praying Mantis. The former will grow, at most, up to 2 inches. This means that the Ghost Mantis is less adept at protecting itself, especially since it has no defensive mechanisms. Except its outstanding camouflaging abilities.
The Ghost Mantis can become as invisible as it gets since its body resembles a dead leaf. The similarity is so striking that the mantis will blend in its environment perfectly. It will also play dead when sensing threat nearby, remaining perfectly still until the danger has passed.
The Ghost Mantis’s body is distorted to mimic the irregularities of a dead and decaying leaf. Similar distortions are present on its head in the form of a large growing, resembling the jagged edge of a rusty leaf. The Ghost Mantis comes in various shades of dark yellow and dark and light brown, perfect for blending in rusty environments.
A Timid Personality
Despite its ominous name and, even more, ominous species that it belongs to, the Ghost Mantis is a timid sweetheart. It will do whatever it can to avoid conflict and will only rarely move, generally to catch prey.
Mantids are generally timid and withdrawn, but the Ghost Mantis takes things to another level. This behavior makes sense, since its timidity is what keeps it alive. This means that you shouldn’t interact with the insect too much. Feed it, clean its habitat, and avoid petting it or holding it too often.
This can stress the insect, causing it to fall sick and refuse food. You should also provide the mantis with a lush habitat, preferably plant-rich, to keep it comfortable and healthy in the long run.
The Ghost Mantis has a Developed Social Behavior
This is a rare occurrence among mantids since they are typically solitary creatures who don’t get along with others of their kind. Most mantids will either attack or straight up kill and eat one another. Except for when the mating season comes, and even then, things are not certain. Female mantids are larger, more powerful, and more aggressive than males. If the female doesn’t like the male, nothing will stop her from having him for dinner.
Ghost Mantids are different in this sense. They can live in quite large social groups, although these are rather rare in the wild. You can keep a couple dozen Ghost mantises in the same habitat without fearing that they may resort to cannibalism.
All that matters is for you to provide them with sufficient space and regular food to keep them full and satisfied. Not giving your mantids enough space may degenerate into violence since overcrowding will stress them out.
Mixing Mantis Species is a No-No
The Ghost Mantis will only get along with insects of the same subspecies. To avoid potentially lethal conflicts, you should only pair the Ghost Mantis with other Ghost mantids. Given the Ghost Mantis’s modest size, the insect will almost always be on the losing end of any conflict.
Mixing the Ghost Mantis with other species of insects is also a no-no. It’s pretty much like mixing lions with gazelles and wondering where all the gazelles are 1 day later. The Ghost Mantis is carnivorous, so it will be grateful for adding other insects into its enclosure.
The Ghost Mantis has a Quite Long Lifespan
The Ghost Mantis displays a longer lifespan compared to other mantids, including the Praying Mantis. The latter can live between 4 to 6 months; compare this with the Ghost Mantis’s lifespan of 7-8 months and you can see the meaty difference.
What’s more impressive is that, typically, mantids’ lifespan varies depending on a variety of factors, size being the most important one. Smaller mantids will have shorter lifespans compared to larger species.
The Ghost Mantis is an exceptionally exception to put it in a colorful sentence. There have been specimens of Ghost mantids who have lived up to 18 months, which is double the average lifespan. The insect’s impressive lifespan is a great asset for insect lovers, making this species that much more appreciated in the field.
Exceptional Breeding Capabilities
The Ghost Mantis will breed impressively fast, compared to other mantids. The female will lay a so-called ootheca, a closed sack containing between 20 to 60 eggs. The ootheca will hatch 6 to 10 weeks later, allowing the small nymphs to hatch and start looking for food.
The Ghost Mantis isn’t what you would call a model mother. It lays the eggs then begins to carefully and methodically mind its own business and not care about anything else. The nymphs are adaptable and will begin to look for food immediately after hatching.
One astounding fact is that the female Ghost Mantis can produce fertilized eggs without the aid of a male. The problem is that she needs a male to help with egg development. Otherwise, she won’t be able to produce and lay her eggs, despite being fertilized before meeting the male.
The Unexpected Mating Process
The Ghost Mantis’s mating behavior isn’t too complicated and it is at the same time. Here’s the mating timeline to keep in mind:
- The male will identify the female’s pheromones and arrive at the scene to introduce himself
- The female will either reject or accept the male; if the latter happens, the pair will lock, forming a love embrace and allowing the male to do its thing
- The male and female may remain locked up to 8 hours in some cases
- The female will lay the ootheca shortly after the mating process completes
- In some situations, the female will cannibalize the male
Once the mating is complete, the female can lay the eggs, paving the road for the next generation of mantids. The newly hatched nymphs will undergo several developmental phases, from L2, the first day of life, to L8, marking the 155th day when the nymph becomes an adult.
The female Ghost Mantis can live up to 8 months pass the L8 mark.
The Ghost Mantis Can Become Cannibal
Cannibalism is quite frequent among mantids, especially between males and females. It is rare among Ghost Mantids because this insect has a more well-developed social behavior than other species. That doesn’t mean that the Ghost Mantis is stranger to cannibalism.
If it lacks proper food, it will not hesitate to turn on its fellow mantids for protein. You should provide your mantis with plenty of nutrients so that the risk of cannibalism remains minimal. Another useful strategy for preventing cannibalism has to do with the living space.
A pair of Ghost Mantids needs around 1 gallon of space to feel comfortable and safe. Make sure every Ghost Mantis has at least 0.5 gallons of available space and provide their environment with plants, leaves, and branches to ensure a varied habitat.
Ghost Mantis Relies on Molting to Grow
Many insects will shed their skin as part of the growth process, and the Ghost Mantis is one of them. This insect will molt 7 times during its lifetime, growing larger with each molt. Males and females are almost indistinguishable during the first 3 growth stages (L1-2-3) when the nymphs retain similar looks. L4 is where females begin to appear different, displaying larger leaf-like appendices and body decorations.
The molting process allows the insect’s skin to accommodate a larger body and even regenerate lost limbs – an ability shared by all mantids and insects that mold.
A key aspect to mention would be the need for proper humidity, especially when molting takes place. Ghost Mantids require around 40% to 70% environmental humidity to ensure the success of the molting procedure. Otherwise, the insect may get stuck into its old skin and lose limbs trying to get out. Or simply die due to the complications occurring along the way.
The Ghost Mantis Can’t Handle Large Prey
The Ghost Mantis is easily intimidated by larger insects, even those that qualify as prey. This mantis will consume young crickets but will run when faced with adult, larger specimens. Male mantids are especially sensitive and will avoid interacting with larger insects, which may cause feeding difficulties, primarily in captivity.
You should only feed small prey to your Ghost Mantis, which may include flies, small crickets, small grasshoppers, etc. This will allow the mantis to kill and consume their prey easier with little discomfort. You should also ensure optimal and regular feeding to prevent the mantis from resorting to cannibalism.
Mantids are fascinating insects, and the Ghost Mantis occupies a special place in the insect kingdom. Their exotic appearance and longer lifespans make them highly valued among insect and mantis lovers. You can purchase a specimen for prices varying between $15 and $30.