Ghost Mantis – Species Profile & Facts
There are plenty of options to choose from if you’re interested in cool, alternative pets. I’m talking venomous snakes, big wild cats, bears, wolfdogs, tarantulas, and pet rocks. But if you’re not into such dangerous companions, you don’t have to stick to cats or fish for all eternity.
There are still many exotic pets to choose from, and they won’t fatally bite you or eat you alive!
The Ghost Mantis is one of them. This pet has become quite popular thanks to its great personality, awesome appearance, and it also doesn’t cost you a fortune!
It’s a win-win-win. If you’re interested in adopting one or more Ghost Mantises, we’re going to cover this subject in-depth in this article. So, stick around to find out more!
Ghost Mantis Natural Habitat
This camo wizard creature is well adapted to warm and humid climates with mild winters. The Ghost Mantis covers a wide area of Africa, including Cameroon, Cape Province, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and more. It can even be found in parts of southern Europe.
It inhabits dry areas and it can usually be found in bushes or hanging upside-down on tree branches. Basically, they can live anywhere where there’s warm enough, and where there’s vegetation they can hide in. Many people also breed them in captivity for either fun or profit.
Ghost Mantis Characteristics
There are over 2,400 species of mantis in the world, each with slightly different appearance and characteristics. The Ghost Mantis, also known as Phyllocrania paradoxa, is among the most beautiful and popular ones, and for many good reasons. So, let’s see what makes this species so unique and widely appreciated.
The most obvious distinguishing characteristic of the Ghost Mantis is its look. This mantis can easily blend in with its surroundings thanks to its appearance. It has an elongated head and irregularly shaped protrusions on its legs and forewing. Its prothorax (upper body) is also long and flat. Its body has irregular edges and a desiccated, leaf-like appearance.
Besides its withered leaf-like shape, its earthy colors also contribute to its camouflage abilities. The most common colors include shades of dark and light brown, but Ghost Mantis can also be green. Their color is determined by their environment.
Ghost Mantises inhabiting dry areas are usually dark to light brown, while Ghost Mantises in humid areas are more likely to be green.
– Size & Growth
The Ghost Mantis is special not only because of its appearance but also because of its proportions. Compared to other species of Praying Mantis, this miniature Mantis only measures up to 2 inches (50 mm) in length when fully developed. Males and females are approximately the same size.
For the first two months of its life (L1-L5), the Ghost Mantis is smaller than the width of a small coin. Typically, the lower body and wings are the last to fully develop. They reach their adult size of 1.8-2.0 inches (45-50 millimeters) after about 5 months (L8). Beyond this point, female Ghost Mantises can live up to an additional 3-6 months, and males will typically live an additional 2-3 months.
Ghost Mantises are calm albeit usually weary of their surroundings. They can stay camouflaged and wait for a long time, assessing the perfect moment to latch onto their prey. When threatened, they get easily intimidated, especially if the prey is larger. In such cases, male Ghost Mantises will fly away, while females will play dead.
Unlike many other types of Praying Mantis, the Ghost Mantis isn’t aggressive with other Mantis species. This quiet, peaceful Mantis can get along with its cousins and brethren without cannibalism, as long as there’s enough space and food for everyone. They’re a mellow and communal species.
The Ghost Mantis, like many other species of Praying Mantis, is non-aggressive, so attacking isn’t their preferred form of defense. However, they do have other means of protecting themselves from dangerous predators such as birds and other insects.
First, they have a very efficient natural camouflage thanks to their leaf-like appearance. They can easily blend in with the environment, going unnoticed even by the sharpest observer. Another thing they do to protect themselves is running or flying away, especially if they’re preyed on by a larger insect.
Females and larger Ghost Mantises in general resort to thanatosis (playing dead) when intimidated. If the enemy isn’t significantly larger than them, Ghost Mantises might also try to scare it away. Like many other Praying Mantises, they’ll assume a tall up-right position and extend their limbs out as far as possible to appear larger.
– Life Cycle
Like other Praying Mantises, the Ghost Mantis goes through three stages in its life cycle. A Ghost Mantis’ life starts with the egg stage. A female Mantis lays up to 300 eggs shortly before she dies. In the wild, the eggs have time to develop over the winter.
The second stage begins once the little Mantises hatch, typically right after winter ends. At this stage, the little Mantis is called a “nymph”. Nymphs typically look very similar to their adult counterparts but are way more vulnerable to predators.
The nymphs will shed their skin multiple times as they grow in size. Many nymphs don’t make it into adulthood either due to larger predators, weather conditions, or cannibalism.
Last but not least comes the adult stage. The Ghost Mantis is not fully developed and ready to take over the world! Well, maybe not. Most Praying Mantises are large enough to hunt and kill small birds at this stage, but this little guy chose a different path. Once they’ve reached adulthood, Ghost Mantises live for an additional 3-6 months.
Ghost Mantis Care
A Ghost Mantis’ development and longevity will depend on its living conditions. In the wild, most animals and insects live shorter lives due to the harsher environment and predators.
In the wild, female Ghost Mantises live up to 8 months, while males die a lot earlier. But in captivity, Ghost Mantises have been reported to live up to 18 months! So, let’s see how to make that happen…
– Diet & Nutrition
Ghost Mantises like feasting on flying prey. Think flies (fruit flies, house flies, etc), crickets, wasps, grasshoppers, beetles, moths, or butterflies. The key here is to ensure the prey is smaller than your Mantis’ head. Ghost Mantises are easily intimidated by larger prey. For this reason, the most common feed choices are flies and crickets.
You can house more Ghost Mantises together thanks to their peaceful demeanor. As long as there’s food to go around, they won’t turn on each other.
The enclosure should provide enough space, adequate ventilation, and some way for your mantis to hang upside-down when molting, whether that means a mesh or some decorative installment. Typically, the enclosure should be three times as long and three times as wide as the length of your mantis.
Besides enough space and ventilation, the enclosure should also meet certain temperature and humidity parameters. The ideal temperature for Ghost Mantises is around 79°F (26°C), but they can also tolerate temperatures of up to 86°F (30°C). However, never let the temperature fall below 64.4°F (18°C)!
Due to their natural habitat, Ghost Mantises prefer high levels of humidity, somewhere around 50-80%. You might have to mist the enclosure often or use a humidifier to achieve such levels.
Last but not least, you should decorate the tank to look as close to the mantis’ natural environment as possible. Sticks, live plants, and even dry leaves make the perfect décor for this leafy boy.
– Health Problems
While they’re not predisposed to health problems, sometimes Ghost Mantises suffer from certain ailments. During molting, when they’re especially vulnerable, Ghost Mantises might acquire deformities such as shortened limbs.
Vomiting and parasites as well as improper development result from improper feeding. Make sure the insects you feed your mantis are healthy and that they don’t come into contact with pesticides or bad bacteria.
You don’t need any special prep to mate your Ghost Mantis. Just make sure that they’re well-fed and 2-4 weeks past the last molting. After you introduce your male and female Ghost Mantis in the same enclosure, all you have to do is wait.
Mating typically lasts for several hours or up to several days. Luckily, in this species, the female mantis rarely cannibalizes her male partner. If the temperature is constant and high enough, the nymphs will hatch after about 4 weeks.
Ghost Mantises are easy to care for, but the experience is not any less rewarding. They grow and develop quickly and they’re fascinating to watch along the way. And even the most insect-repulsed person will have to admit that your pet looks dope as hell.
Unlike other mantises, the Ghost Mantis is also not a pain in the butt. You don’t have to bother separating them, because they can actually inhabit the same space without eating each other.