(Violin Mantis, Indian Rose Mantis)
This has got to be one of the most bizarre mantids out there (they are my personal favorites). G. gongylodes long prothorax gives it the image of a violin (hence its name). The males of this species can fly very well and possess long feathery antennas.
Females grow up to 10 cm long while males peak at 8-9 cm. After the 3rd molt, 8 segments can be counted on the male’s abdomen while 6 on the females. The males will also have a thick feathery antenna as adults with full usable wings. The females wings will only cover 75% of their abdomen.
This species of mantis require lots of extra heat. It’s best to keep it around 30-40 C (86-104 F). A heat mat or a heat lamp may be used to maintain the desired temperature. Keep the temperature slightly cooler at night to lengthen the lifespan of the mantis. It is best to use a light bulb because the lamp gives off a temperature gradient that allows the mantids to choose their desired temperature. Keep humidity at a constant 40-50%.
Their cage should be well ventilated with lots of twigs for the mantids to perch on. These mantises are quite large as adults and will require a large container. They are non-cannibalistic so a group of up to 10 individuals may be kept together given that there is sufficient space. A terrarium with a size of 60/60/90cm (LxWxH) is suitable for up to 10 mantids. Single mantids can be held in a 20/20/25cm tank. They will need a screen lid to perch on to catch their prey.
This species prefers to eat flying insects. Start out with fruit flies for nymphs and move to house flies and moths for larger nymphs and adults. Stay away from crickets. Crickets are high in proteins and this species will not be able to make oothecas with a cricket diet (so i’m told, I have yet to verify this). Even though they are voracious and will attack anything, do not offer them poisonous insects or wasps or bees as these could seriously harm the mantis. These do not need any further coaxing to eat. If they are hungry and they see something buzzing around them, they will pluck it from the air and proceed to eat it. Feed them as much as it will eat in one day and do not feed it for another 2 days. Watch their abdomen, if it is hugely inflated, then stop feeding them. As for watering, Gongylus mantids will rarely need water. They are from the hot arid desert of India where it rarely rains.
A mantis will stop eating a few days prior to its molt. Mantises molt about every 2 weeks as young nymphs and the time in between each molt increases as they get older so their last molt into adulthood can sometimes take as long as 3-4 weeks. It takes about 7 molts for females and about 6 for males. During molting, it is vital that you do not disturb them and also make sure that the humidity is at a safe level the suggested level is fine. The mantis will hang upside down from a branch or the screen lid and will sometimes shake or spasm violently. Then after a while, it worms out of its old skin and will hang out to dry. Once it’s dried, it will resume eating and being its normal self after a day or 2.
After 2 weeks since their last molt, introduce the female into the male’s enclosure near him. Or if they have been raised in a colony, they will mate when they are ready. It could take hours before the male does anything though. He will jump on her back as soon as he feels safe. After a while of holding on (this could take from hours to days), the male will bend his abdomen down to connect with hers and mating will commence.
3-4 weeks after their final molt, the female may being laying her ootheca first ootheca. This species can lay around 6-15 oothecae. Remove the females from the oothecas or the oothecae from the females afterward. After 4-6 weeks of incubation at 30-35 C (86-95 F) and 40-50% humidity with an everyday light misting of warm water, 15-30 nymphs will hatch out. These can be fed on fruit flies a day or two after hatching. Then continue to care for them as this care sheet suggests.