One of the most well loved mantids, a species known by everyone. The Orchid Mantis is wanted by everyone, and lives up to their name with their wonderful ability to mimic an orchid
As described by their name, the Orchid Mantis look like…and orchid. With white/pink projections over their legs, neck, and abdomen, they can make a fantastic camouflage when placed on an orchid. Males are distinctively smaller than females, and will not appear to grow through sheds of the skin. As adult, both species possess fully grown wings, and the male can fly very well. Females can reach up to 6cm, wild caught specimens usually being slightly longer. Males will reach a maximum of 3cm, and are mostly under half the length of the female! This is the easiest way of determining sex, but can also be done by using the usual method, 8 segments for the male, and 6 or 7 for the female.
Humidity and Temperature
If pairs are being grown on to breed, then it is essential to change the growth rates of each species. Males must be slowed down, as naturally, they grow a lot faster than females. To do this, you must keep at cooler temperatures, and feed less than females. Around 15-18c will be the best for males, which will keep their growth rate very slow, but give them enough heat to metabolise. Females can be kept from 30-55c, and this will be the maximum temperature to increase growth rate. Humidity is essential, as the Hymenopus comes from Malaysia, a naturally humid country. This can be done by simply spraying the enclosure once a day. Substrate, like soil, peat, coconut fibre or kitchen towel can be used to keep humidity levels high. This will also help overcome any problems with shedding.
Housing and Enclosure
A very small enclosure will be needed for small nymphs, as they are a very inactive species. The only limit you will need to bear in mind is that there must be ample height for the mantis to successfully moult. There must be a suitable surface for the mantis to grip on to, such as a mesh or net lid. They are a sit and wait species, and will not hunt around for food, so the smaller the enclosure, the better. Their diet must be a flying insect based one, like it would be in their natural habitat. Flies, wasps, bees, moths, and any other flying insect found outside will be much appreciated, and will be naturally gut-loaded. By offering a varied diet, you will notice that each specimen will be much larger, and will produce a much larger, more fertile ootheca. Do be careful when offering prey, making sure that it will not be to large for the mantis to catch, or consume. There have been many accounts of live food eating the mantis, so any food which has not been consumed within a day or so, should be removed.
Ootheca can hatch up to 90 or so nymphs, which will be black and red when they emerge. These colours will fade after the mantis has shed. Nymphs must be sprayed daily.
The Orchid Mantis is one of the most favoured species by any breeder, and a lovely one for the collection, if you are able to provide the right conditions. It is a shame that it is so rare, expensive, and hard to get hold of, although with continuous breeding, hopefully the popularity of this wonderful species will increase.
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