Orchid Mantis – Species Profile & Facts
It’s known that most people love the idea of pets. We have had pets since the dawn of time, first for their usefulness (hunting or protection) then, more recently, for a variety of other reasons, including emotional comfort, relaxation, or pure enjoyment. Which we can still see as useful.
But while some people have cats or dogs, others prefer more exotic animals, including the Orchid Mantis, which makes this article’s subject. So, if you’re into insects and have fallen victim to this Mantis’s charms, here’s what you should know about it before getting one:
Orchid Mantis Natural Habitat
The Orchid Mantis typically lives in the tropical forests in Southeast Asia but will usually thrive in any humid, vegetation-rich habitat filled with insects to hunt. There’s a natural explanation why this Mantis prefers tropical forests, and that’s the diversity of the vegetation.
Just like the name suggests, the Orchid Mantis is a gorgeous ambush predator whose entire shtick revolves around mimicking the plants around it.
This insect’s natural color is predominantly white with subtle nuances of pink and yellow, but those can vary slightly. Its body shape also suggests the idea of a tropical flower that can quickly attract unsuspecting insects.
The similarity is so uncanny that it will fool you, a fully evolved and smart Homo Sapiens, let alone a flock of no-brain insects whose entire life’s purpose is to look for colorful flowers to sit on.
Knowing this, you should make sure you can replicate the Mantis’s natural environment before getting one. This will help it adapt to the domesticated life a lot better, allowing it to feel more comfortable and secure in the terrarium.
Orchid Mantis Characteristics
How do you distinguish between the Orchid Mantis and any of the other 1,800 species out there? Many species can be so similar to one another that they can confuse experts, let alone profane insect lovers like me and you. Here are some core characteristics that should help you navigate around this species:
The Orchid Mantis is white-ish with yellow and pink shades, very similar to, you guessed it, orchids. It has a flat body with plant-like arms and various color shades and striations here and there.
Place it in a color-filled plant environment, and you will soon forget it’s there. Once you see it, you will never be able to forget it, thanks to its unique look.
– Size & Growth
The Orchid Mantis female can reach about 2.5 – 2.7 inches in length, while the male will only reach half that if lucky. This is a somewhat awkward feature since, in other animals, the males are the bigger ones since they need to protect the female and fight with other males for territory and reproduction.
For insects, including the Orchid Mantis, it’s the male that has the size disadvantage.
Generally speaking, the Orchid Mantis is a quiet species that only becomes active when hunting. Gender-wise, things vary slightly. The male tends to be more active and jittery, while the female is the quieter one. Although, she could try to fly or become agitated when frightened.
If there’s one thing that you should know about Orchid Mantids is that they don’t like to be petted. Unfortunate news, I know, but it’s just the way it is.
The Mantis will raise its arms and spread its wings when irritated, either looking to fly or straight up attacking you. It’s a charming creature to look at but a fierce one to hold or play with.
– Life Cycle
The Orchid Mantis, just like other species of Mantids and insects, resort to molting to grow. Molting is the phase of shedding old skin and taking on a newer one, fit for accommodating the ever-growing body.
A Mantis female will molt around 7 times during its lifetime, which could span over 7 or 8 months, even in captivity. Males only molt around 5 times since they also live around 5 months on average.
Orchid Mantis Care
Now that you’ve learned pretty much everything about the Orchid Mantis, the next thing is learning how to care for them. And it’s an important aspect considering that the Orchid Mantis is an exotic animal that you don’t usually stumble across in your everyday life.
There are few aspects to touch on here:
– Diet & Nutrition
The Orchid Mantis, like any other Mantis, is a carnivorous ambush predator. It generally consumes various insects, unfortunate enough to consider the Mantis’s appearance attractive.
These may include butterflies, moths, flies, and even little frogs, mice, and lizards. Pretty much everything that moves, and it’s small enough for them to hunt, kill, and consume. Domesticated Orchid Mantis needs similar things to remain healthy in the long run.
Housing the Mantis is relatively easy since it only requires an enclosed space, mimicking their natural environment. A screen cage with mesh walls is usually the smarter choice, providing the Mantis with the opportunity to climb its cage and change its position from time to time while ensuring a continuous flow of fresh air.
The Mantis isn’t a very active animal by nature, so you don’t need to provide it with too much space. Focus on a substrate of soil, peat moss, or coconut fiber since these will retain more humidity, making the Mantis feel at home in its enclosure.
The environment should be somewhat diverse, with a lot of humidity and plants or branches that the Orchid Mantis can climb. This creature loves to find a comfortable spot, assume its yoga position, and count the minutes and hours to the next flying meal.
So, make sure to provide the terrarium with an abundance of branches and vines, sufficient to provide the Mantis with climbing opportunities but not enough to suffocate the environment. The ideal temperature should vary between 77 and 95 °F, with humidity varying between 60 and 80%.
– Health Problems
One of the most common problems to look out for is blacked eyes. This usually occurs from bumping into walls when trying to fly around the enclosure. Nothing to worry about.
Other problems include missing limbs or crooked wings, which could appear both during fighting with other Mantids. Which shouldn’t be a problem since you’ll only have one Mantis in the enclosure anyway. More than one is asking for murder to take place.
There are two things to mention here. First is that females live twice as much as males, which means they may mature sexually when the male has already died of old age. You can slow down the male’s natural growth cycle by dropping the temperature in their habitat to about 65 °F.
Second, the female should eat before introducing the male into her habitat. Otherwise, she will eat the male dropping his already short lifespan even more. You may also need to provide the female some food while the male is in there.
She will be occupied with her prey while the male does his job before she can acknowledge him. It’s neither romantic nor flattering, but it works.
Despite being an exotic creature with unique needs, the Orchid Mantis is less needy than you might think. It doesn’t require too much special attention, other than spraying its habitat with some water occasionally to increase humidity. And throwing in some live food from time to time.
Other than that, it will just stay there, on a branch, looking at you with its big, colorful eyes. Judging in silence.
Oh, and by the way, don’t keep more than one Mantis in the same terrarium. They don’t work well with others and might start eating each other shortly. One cage per insect, and they should be fine.
If you have any extra questions on the Mantis subject, don’t hesitate to ask, and I won’t hesitate to answer.