The female orchid mantis can grow to approximately two-and-a-half inches in length and can live for up to 8 months. On the other hand, the male orchid mantis grows to just one inch. It matures faster than the female orchid mantis because it is smaller. Therefore, its life expectancy of only five to six months is less.
Orchid Mantis Life Cycle
Orchid mantises are like all mantises. They have three stages of life.
Eggs: When they are contained in the ootheca.
Nymphs: This is the juvenile phase of life. These are not considered larvae, as their bodies are fully developed, with the exception of their wings. However, they do have an exoskeleton which is unnecessary and will eventually need to be shed.
Adults: Orchid mantises become their final adult form after they shed or “molt” their exoskeletons.
These life stages are probably familiar to anyone who is familiar with insects. Orchid mantises do not go through the pupal stage as other metamorphosing insects.
This species is a hybrid of parts of the orchid flower. The four legs of this species resemble the petals of an orchid flower. The toothed front pair can be used to grasp prey as in other mantises. Small insects like beetles, fruit flies and crickets are part of their diet. Some cannibalistic and eat their siblings if they are too close.
Females have a petal-like appearance and pink or yellowish-pink color. They are not the same size as males and have a dull, greenish color.
New research has shown that the male and female orchid mantises are not only different in appearance, but also evolved in a way that is unimaginable in arthropods (the group that includes spiders as well as insects). See amazing examples of insect camouflage.
Research suggests that the females’ strategy for hunting pollinating insects has influenced the evolution of the two species. This led to large females that look like orchids and small males who are adept at hiding.
Gavin Svenson of Cleveland Museum of Natural History, along with his colleagues, measured the bodies of more than 100 orchid mantises using a stereomicroscope. They also modelled how certain evolutionary traits such as color evolved over time.
The researchers also studied the evolutionary relationships between orchid mantises, their distant relatives, and were able to reconstruct the shifts that resulted in the unusual appearance of the orchid mantises.
By mimicking the flowers of female orchid mantises, large and colorful males can attract insects prey. The male orchid mantises were small and camouflaged so they could avoid predators and find mates.
Males are small because they have to move about the environment in order to find females or mate.
Is it Possible to Raise Orchid Mantis as a Pet?
Glass terrariums are essential for orchid mantis survival as pets. Other materials are possible, but glass allows heat to escape. This means that the temperature does not fluctuate – it is always constant.
To give the orchid mantis enough space, its terrarium must be at least 200x300x200mm in height. Although it is content to wait for prey, the orchid mantis does not need to move. However, it does have wings that it can use.
The orchid mantis requires a constant temperature of 70-75F (21-24C) in order to thrive. It is not tolerant to temperature fluctuations.
This can be achieved by placing a heat mat that is thermostat-controlled on one side of your glass terrarium.
The glass terrarium creates an area of temperature gradient because it is only heated one side. The orchid mantis can heat up or cool down simply by moving around from one area of the enclosure to another.
Although we don’t have much information about the microhabitat for the orchid mantis we do know that it is a tropical species and lives in Southeast Asia.
This can be done by using a soil mixture (at least 2 inches) which retains moisture after a morning application.
Also, it’s best for the orchid mantis (or any other species) to perform mimesis. To do this, add plants to your glass terrarium. The natural wood ornaments are beautiful and provide perches for the mantis. They aren’t stationary, after all.
You might also consider adding trailing plants to your garden. They are not only beautiful, but also capture water and provide a convenient water source for your pet.