Spiny Flower Mantis – Species Profile & Facts
When you get bored of conventional pets, you resort to other, more exotic animals. This is where the Spiny Flower Mantis enters the picture. A brightly colored and patterned insect, this mantis is quite the looker.
You’ll be awed by its beautiful color palette and green patterns running down its back and legs. If that doesn’t brighten your day, I don’t know what will.
A Spiny Flower Mantis is very friendly to its keeper, once it gets to know you. And as long as you don’t handle it too much, the mantis will get along with you just fine.
Most mantids need their freedom and independence, otherwise, they get stressed and uncomfortable. In this article, I’ll give you a detailed caretaking guide of the Spiny Flower mantis. Keep reading!
Spiny Flower Mantis Natural Habitat
Our beloved Spiny Flower Mantis originates from the plains of sub-Saharan Africa, where it feeds on insects and other mantids. It prefers a temperature range of 77 – 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with some humidity in the evening.
I strongly recommend you improve your mantis’ overall health by copying its natural habitat. For instance, a lower or higher temperature may harm it in the long run, depriving you of a pet owner’s joy.
This mantis lives in a forested environment, with dry twigs, plants, flowers, and leaves all over the place. Naturally, you’ll need to provide these things to your Spiny Flower Mantis, for extra comfort.
Being displaced from one’s natural habitat is a traumatic experience for many animals. That’s why pet owners must replicate the pet’s natural habitat in captivity – to diminish the trauma.
Spiny Flower Mantis Characteristics
Spiny Flower Mantids are a bag of colorful surprises just waiting to be popped open. Their physical traits, although pleasing to the eye, have a much grimmer underside to them. Deception is a mantis’ best tool in the wild, which doesn’t change even in captivity. You could release flying insects in the enclosure to keep your mantis sharp!
Hands down, Spiny Flower Mantids are some of the most beautiful insects out there. Its white skin dotted by green accents makes for a picturesque image. But this mantis isn’t beautiful from the beginning.
In its nymph stage, the mantis is pitch-black, and this lasts until the 3rd instar. That’s when they molt into orange, which then changes to what you see in an adult mantis – white skin with green colorations on the limbs.
Purple eyes and a hypnotic eye pattern on its wings, this mantis is charming beyond all comparison. The yellow-black swirl on their wings acts as a defense mechanism, though. Other insects and animals don’t find it too attractive or pleasing to the eye. Quite the contrary- most creatures find this pattern dreadful and utterly terrifying, and the mantis uses this to its advantage.
Their primary color is white, with green colorations on various segments of the legs and body. All Spiny Flower Mantids look the same, essentially, with slight pattern differences. Their camouflage helps them blend in among flowers, giving them an edge when hunting prey. No one ever notices these mantids prowling about, ready to leap out at the slightest notice.
– Size & Growth
Spiny Flower Mantids grow up 3-4 inches in length, as adults. Females are always bigger than males, just because nature loves equality. Compared to other insects and even mantids, Spiny Flowers are tiny. You can hold it in your hand and pet the little bugger if it lets you. If you look closely, you may even notice it has purple eyes.
These mantids grow fast from nymph to adult. But mantids are known cannibals in the insect world, so most nymphs end up as food. If they’re allowed to grow, you’ll have new mantids in a couple of months. Baby mantids also have a rapid growth rate. One Spiny Flower Mantis gives birth to 50 nymphs at a time, so the reproduction rate is staggering, to say the least.
Generally, Spiny Flower Mantids are quiet and relaxed. They’re the stalker type, hiding in the trees and waiting for the next prey to come close. However, when a predator approaches, these mantids break all courtesy. Remember the eye pattern on their wings that I mentioned? Well, that pattern comes into full display when the mantis raises its wings in an intimidatory showcase. Predators will think twice about provoking the mantis.
Who knows what beast the eye belongs to? These mantids mimic the intimidatory appearance of larger predators to avoid fights. When there’s no threat in sight, Spiny Flower Mantids sit quietly in a bush or among flowers. Their camouflage is almost perfect, making them invisible killers. Stealth of this caliber is rare among animals, even other mantids.
Spiny Flower Mantids won’t track down prey, though. In most cases, they wait for animals to get close, then they ambush them. If the victim escapes, the mantis won’t pursue unless it’s famished. But a mantis rarely fails an ambush, so it rarely goes hungry.
Camouflage is a mantis’ best form of defense. If that doesn’t work, then the mimetic display on its wings acts as a second form of protection. Most predators can’t even see the mantis sitting around in ambush, and those who see it will be frightened by the mimetic display. Problem solved; our Spiny Flower Mantis is generally safe from other predators.
– Life Cycle
Most Spiny Flower Mantids live up to 6 months. However, with proper care and adequate nutrition, they can even live up to a year. To prolong its lifespan, avoid feeding it too often and ensure that the temperature is not too high.
Mantids go through several life cycles, but all of them finish relatively fast, resulting in a beautiful flower-looking mantis. Take good care of it, and it’ll stick by your side for an entire year!
But if you’re worried your mantis may be suffering from age-related problems, you can resort to euthanasia. Place the mantis in a container in your freezer, and let it stay there. It’s a painless death, at least. It’s the better option than watching it suffer because of lost limbs or a weakened grip.
Spiny Flower Mantis Care
Spiny Flower Mantids are easy to care for. Buy a fitting enclosure for them, keep the temperature and humidity steady, and provide them with healthy food. Be careful about their cannibalistic tendencies, watch their reproductive periods, and they’ll be fine. If you’re lucky, your mantids will live up to a year!
– Diet & Nutrition
In its natural habitat, the Spiny Flower Mantis eats flying insects like moths and flies. But it will also eat spiders if any falls prey to its camouflage. Thanks to its powerful Reaper scythes-looking limbs, the mantis can hunt prey bigger than her. But I recommend sticking to flying insects and other prey like:
- Flies – Nothing appeals more to your mantis than flies. Because flies are so fast, your mantis will thoroughly enjoy the thrill of the hunt. But use only bluebottle flies because they’re much bigger and provide more nutrients to the mantis. You can buy them online. I recommend getting fly pupae and putting them in the refrigerator for storage. To feed your mantis, simply put the flies in the substrate, then wait for the flies to hatch.
- Fruit Flies – Mantis love fruit flies from the larva stage to the L5 instar. You can easily cultivate fruit flies at home!
- Moths – Spiny Flower Mantids will feed on moths, as well. But it’ll be hard to find right-sized ones in pet stores. And I don’t recommend catching wild moths because they may carry diseases.
- Cockroaches – If you can’t find flying insects, cockroaches will do. Mantids aren’t picky eaters, after all. As long as the roaches are an appropriate size, the mantids will eat them
- Crickets – You could feed crickets to your mantids but I generally advise against that. Mantids don’t exactly like crickets, and these insects may also carry diseases that could kill your mantids
- Mealworms – Never feed your mantids with mealworms. They can cause digestive blockages because of their high content of fat
As for feeding frequency, Spiny Flower Mantids don’t need to eat every day. In fact, I recommend feeding them less often because overfeeding is harmful to mantids. Only during the nymphal stage do mantids need daily feeding. As for adults, you’ll want to feed them every couple of days.
To check whether your mantids are overweight, look for bloating on their abdomen. If your mantids are bloated, lower their feeding frequency. Overfeeding drastically lowers a mantis’ lifespan, so I recommend sticking to a strict feeding schedule.
I recommend a housing that’s at least three times taller than your mantis. For Spiny Flower Mantids, let’s say a 4.5-inch-tall enclosure is a bare minimum. I recommend making it higher, though. Mantids need to hang upside down when molting, so height is essential in their housing specifications.
A glass terrarium or a net cage is an ideal option for mantids. They offer lower humidity and good airflow, which mantids love. Net cages are the best option, in my perspective. The mesh on the walls allows your mantids to climb over and hang vertically. They love doing that!
Housing decorations will help mantids feel more comfortable in their environment, as well. I recommend artificial flowers (white ones), sticks, branches, and twigs. Mantids love hiding in vegetation and stalking their prey. So, release some flying insects in the enclosure, from time to time. Hunting for sport is a mantid’s favorite activity.
Spiny Flower Mantids love natural lighting, and they like it bright. Let the lights shine! As for temperature, around 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Warmth is good for mantids, but sweaty-hot isn’t.
A heating mat or a lamp will keep the temperature constant in the enclosure, though. Install it on one side of the housing, so the mantis can self-regulate its temperature by moving to and away from the heat source.
Substrate-wise, absorbent materials are great. Use paper towels, coconut coir, or bark. The bark is dry, which is just fine because too much humidity can harm the mantids. Coconut coir is both sterile and affordable, and it’s a great way to absorb humidity. However, if too much water enters the coir, it may develop mold, which is a death sentence for mantids.
Finally, paper towels are the simplest and most affordable type of substrate. But you’ll need to replace them too often, so it may become a pain in the butt. The bark is the best option I’ve been able to find, and I also recommend you try it for yourself. As long as it can absorb the humidity and not form mold, the substrate is great!
Now, on to humidity and ventilation. Mantids aren’t a big fan of huge humidity, so a hygrometer is necessary to control the humidity levels. Never let it fall below 40% and go above 60%. It isn’t much of a problem if the humidity is too low. But if it goes too high, your mantids may even die.
You can maintain good airflow by installing a mesh lid on the enclosure. With fresh air coming in and out, ventilation is taken care of instantly. But you’ll also need to spray the enclosure with water, now and then. Spiny Flower Mantids need to stay hydrated at all times. Fortunately, spraying a couple of times on the plant leaves in the enclosure is enough.
– Health Problems
When it comes to their health, spiny flower mantids require constant attention and care. Otherwise, they may fall ill, break a limb, get infected with viral diseases, or die from overfeeding. Let’s take every individual problem and talk it out:
- Overfeeding – Mantids are always hungry. They seldom refuse food if offered. If you feed your mantis too often, it may become bloated or even rupture its stomach. Intestinal blockages could appear, as well. Fortunately, you only have to feed your mantis every couple of days, unless it’s young. Nymphs need to eat daily to grow fast and healthy, though.
- Molting – If it doesn’t molt, a Spiny Flower Mantis may fall ill. To mold properly, mantids need enough vertical space so they can hang upside down. Fail to provide that vertical space and your mantis won’t be able to mold adequately. Spiny Flower Mantids are also more resilient to lower humidity levels and prefer drier conditions. Too much humidity can also interfere with its molting process.
- Fungus & Mold – By far, the most dangerous threat a Spiny Flower Mantis faces is a fungus infection. Mold grows in damp and moist environments, where the humidity level is high. Once mold forms, fungal infections won’t be late to the party either. And when mantids get fungal infections, it’s game over. I recommend installing a lid or a net cage for improved airflow.
Moreover, don’t spray the enclosure too often, to avoid humidity build-up. You should also remove the frass from the enclosure, as it can mold extremely quickly. Once you notice signs of fungal infections, boost the airflow and heat the enclosure to lower the humidity. Even sick mantids may recover with enough dryness and warmth.
- Bacterial & Viral Disease – Mantids may get a viral or bacterial disease, and it’s game over as well. Fortunately, these diseases are easy to prevent. Most times, what you feed the mantis leads to viral and bacterial infections, especially cockroaches and crickets. I recommend never feeding crickets to your mantids for this reason alone. As for cockroaches, they’re fine as long as you breed them at home.
- Injury – You wouldn’t expect this insect to injure itself but it’s entirely possible. Spiny Flower Mantids frequently lose legs or antennae in scuffles or through fall damage. Nymphs can regenerate most of their limbs but adult mantids cannot. It’s still alright if the mantis loses one raptorial limb, though you may have to hand-feed it. But a mantis with both forelimbs lost can’t eat, climb, or molt. Euthanasia is the best course of action.
Then, mantids can also rupture their bodies when falling from great heights. Even though their bodies are sturdy and resilient, great falls will still injure them. Be careful when handling them because mantids may get scared and try to run away, even leaping from your palm.
Do you want to breed your Spiny Flower Mantids? I don’t blame you, seeing how colorful and beautiful they are. But breeding mantids can be a pain in the butt. Females are, let’s say, bloody savages that will kill and eat their partners. They do that just because they can. So, to avoid maximum carnage in the enclosure, make sure:
- The female is well-fed before the mating happens. Feed the male, as well
- The two mantids should be close of age
- To remove the male once the female tries to murder him in cold blood
- To distract the female with a prey item when you introduce the male into the living space
It’s a toxic relationship, alright? I don’t dare to try and understand why female mantids eat their partners. For now, let’s focus on how to differentiate males and females. You see, males have thicker antennae that go beyond their bodies. Females are the opposite, with thin antennae that are quite short.
Once the mating happens, the female mantis, if she still hasn’t eaten her husband, will lay an ootheca (sac of eggs). In that sac of eggs, there are up to 50 nymphs that will hatch simultaneously. The ootheca requires similar environmental conditions to adult mantids, with low moisture being a must. Once the nymphs hatch, feed them with fruit flies and other tiny prey items.
Does a Spiny Flower Mantis make for a good pet? Yes, in my opinion. Even though it lives up to a year, that year will be enjoyable for both of you.
Take care of its needs by controlling the temperature and humidity, feed it healthy food, and make sure it doesn’t fall ill. A mantis is a wonderful pet for insect enthusiasts, I would say. Especially the Spiny Flower Mantis, with how beautiful it looks.
If you have any questions, leave them below and I’ll get back to you in the shortest time possible!