(Malaysian Orchid Mantis)
The orchid mantid has been incredibly elusive in the pet trade. It is due to failed breeding and a ban on collection of wild specimen that contributes to its rarity. It is indeed a gem of the mantid kingdom. This infamous mantid lives up to its name like no other. It mimics the orchid flowers of its native origin and even the flower’s color. Their color ranges from pink to white to red and even green. Each leg sports a semi-circular lobe that gives the mantid its petal-like appearance. When threatened, the orchid mantid will flatten itself and spread its lobed legs outward to make itself look like a flower. Adult males are white in color with brown markings and adult females are white with brown or green markings.
Orchid mantid nymphs can be sexed as soon as L2 (click here to see how). Males will remain tiny after each molt while the female will continue to grow. Adult male coronatus are incredibly tiny in bulk compared to the females. It is perhaps the most extreme sexual dimorphism seen in any species. It is beneficial to sex the nymphs ASAP to separate the males from the females. Males will mature very rapidly and must be slowed down and females must be sped up to ensure proper breeding. Females coronatus grow up to 3 inches long while the tiny males will barely pass 1 inch.
Orchid mantids need high humidity, especially for nymphs of all stages. Although a drop wont harm the mantid, it is best to maintain the humidity at 80-90%. Temperature varies on a wide scope. Males that are being slowed down can be kept at 15 C (roughly 60 F) and females that are being sped up can be kept at 30-33 C (86-91 F). The more heat they are exposed to, the faster they will grow…but take care to not cook the mantid.
Keep the orchid mantid nymphs in a small container lined with paper towel at the bottom…once they’ve outgrown their container (be warry that they still have room to molt), move on to larger containers, but keep it small to make feeding easy. Once they are well past L6, terrarium substrate may be used to replace paper towel. As always, be sure to give the mantid proper room to molt. The suggested size is an enclosure with length, width, and hight that is at least 3x the mantids length. For example, a 1 inch mantid should not be kept in any cups or other enclosures smaller than 3x3x3 inches. I have heard that this species can be kept communally. I myself have not tried this and would not recommend it.
Orchid mantids are not very picky, but good nutrition is necessary to breed them properly. Feed them copiously with flying insects such as moths and flies and so on. These can be fed honey or sugared water prior to feeding to give the mantid additional nutrients. Be sure to stay away from insects that can seriously harm the mantid. Wasps and bees are not recommended unless the stinger has been removed…even then, bees do not have that much juice in them anyway so the mantid will just be eating a shell (I’ve tried it). Hatchlings may start out with fruit flies and graduate to house flies as they grow older and eventually moths and larger prey. Crickets can be used if given proper nutrients prior to feeding, but an occasional cricket or two will not harm the mantid.
Just like most mantids, coronatus molt upside down when the time comes. The nymphs will refuse food a day or two prior to molting and attention should be given to the humidity to ensure a proper molt. Females will take 7 molts to reach adulthood and males will molt only 6 times…which is why it is very important to slow the males down while speeding up the growth of the females. As long as proper humidity is maintained, there should be no problems with molting. Allow the mantid to dry out on its own and resume feeding 1 day after molting.
After 2 weeks since their last molt (the “2 week” rule mostly applies to females, males can be bred within 1 week), introduce the female into the male’s cage. Make sure that the female is VERY well fed and continue to feed her while she’s with the male. Males are not easily coaxed into mating so he must be allowed to take things on his own terms. The male will occasionally drum on the female with his arms while courting and if the female is mature, she will allow him to copulate with her. You can try manually introducing the male onto the female’s back, but the males are very skittish and this may be too difficult. Once copoulation is complete, remove the female and place her in a container for her to lay her oothecae. She may be re-bred after laying 2 or 3 oothecae to increase fertility in the last few oothecae, but it is not necessary.
Mated coronatus females will lay their oothecae from days to weeks after mating. The oothecae are approximately 2 inches in length and are white in color at first, but change to a light brown after a day or 2. These must be kept under the same conditions as the adults to avoid drying out. Maintain the humidity at 80-90% just like a normal nymph and keep the temperature at 80-85F and the 50-100 or so nymphs should hatch out within 5-6 weeks. The hatchlings will be red and black at first and will take on their white and pink colors after their first molt. Keep the nymphs as this caresheet suggests and separate the nymphs after the first molt.