The Idolomantis Diabolica, sometimes known as the “King of all mantids” for the obvious reason; it’s beauty, size and rarity.
This species is another one of the very many flower mimics. With it’s bright green wing case, centred with a large, coloured, ocellus. With leafy projections on the legs, and green/brown body colouring, this species is a true master of disguise. Both sexes possess fully grown wings, covering the whole abdomen. Sex determination is the usual, 8 segments for the male, and 6 or 7 for the female. Another sexual dimorphism is the difference on appearance of the antennae. The males have more feathery, split antennae, and the females long, thin and straight.
Humidity and Temperature
The Idolomantis requires a slightly more advanced keeping than most species. Originating from Tanzania, it would be exposed to very high temperatures, likewise with humidity. In captivity, we try to do the best to stimulate these conditions. 25-35C is the best temperature range to bee keeping the Idolomantis, and any figures higher, or lower, are not recommended. Spraying is not required, however when young, occasional spraying may help to overcome shedding problems. This species has a very complex structure, as with many other mimic species, which can prove a problem when shedding. Frequent spraying will soften the skin, making removal a lot quicker, and easier. Having high temperatures also helps when spraying, as all standing water will be evaporated within a few hours.
Housing and Enclosure
Being one of the largest of all species, the Idolomantis Diabolica is a true beast. Due to its size, the enclosure needs to be a big one. For shedding purposes, the height of the enclosure needs to be at least 3 times the length of the mantis. Any shallower, then it could lead to the mantis getting tangles in the exuvium. They are not a very active species, so an overly large enclosure is not necessary. They will often spend days sitting in the same spot, either as a form of disguise, or in a warm light.
Foliage must be put in the enclosure, as after all, the Idolomantis is a flower mimicking species. Silk plants are the best form of foliage to use, as these are 100% free from any toxins. Also provide some twigs, and other branches, for hanging purposes. When kitting out the enclosure, make sure it is not over crowded. It is best to leave on side of the tank virtually free of foliage, to provide room for the shedding of skin. When adult, this does not matter, as the mantis will not under go any more shedding of skin.
It is advised to use a substrate, as for any exotic mantis species. Not only does it add to the look of the enclosure, but also it helps to keep humidity levels high. The most effective substrate is soil or peat. Also, a layer of compressed coconut fibre is a great substrate, as this is very clean, and you can be assured no form of pesticide or any other harmful chemicals will be present. This is especially good for the Idolomantis, as they do require very high humidity levels.
The diet is one of the harder aspects of keeping the Idolomantis. They feed primarily on flying insects. Houseflies, moths, butterflies, beetles, lacewings, and any other flying insect available. They will not take to ground dwellers, such as crickets, locusts, mealworms, and the standard live food that is readily available in the local pet store. Not only does the mantis not take to these feeders, but also they are unsuitable to use as a staple diet, especially when breeding. There are chemicals contained in these live foods (mainly crickets) that stop the female from producing foam for her oothecae, thus laying worthless masses.
Different sizes require different sizes of food. From about L4, they will readily take small houseflies. Any smaller, they should be fed on fruit flies (D. Heidii) A large female will be able to take a hawk moth, but feeding gut loaded flies will be the best option.
For gut loading the flies, there is a very simple method. Keep the pupae in an airy container, covered in a fine mesh lid. Keep the container warm, but do not spray the pupae. As the flies start hatching, lay pieces of kitchen roll, soaked in warm water a honey mixture, on top of the mesh lid. The flies will feed off this, and after about 3 days of this, they will have a suitable nutritional content to feed to the mantis.
Wild caught insects will not need to be gut loaded, as they will have had a natural gut load in them already.
It will always be know, the Idolomantis Diabolica will be one of the most beautiful, well-loved mantids in captivity. However, it really is not one for the beginner. It has to be said, one is lucky to successfully rear this species in the collection, but until experience has been built up from past species, attempting to keep the Idolomantis, could prove a failure.