Has to be the strangest of all mantids kept in captivity. Their cryptic looks have given them their famous name of taking the shape of a violin.
As suggested by the name, the Gonylus looks somewhat like a violin in shape. The long prothorax stretches down, protruding at the sides, finishing off with a slender, twig like neck stretching to the abdomen. They have leaf like projections in the leg joints, helping the overall camouflage, and similar projections on the end, and sides of the abdomen. The wings cover the whole abdomen in males, however in females, the wings do not reach right to the end of the 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. Females reach around 9-10cm, and males around 8cm.
Humidity and Temperature
These tropical mantids are in need of very high temperatures, considerably higher than your average mantis. Good temperatures can range from around 30-35c, however can stretch anywhere up to 40c! This can be hard to stimulate when living on shelving, so it can be an idea to house in tank, with a spot light, and sometimes a heat mat as well. If a lamp is used, place this on one side of the enclosure, this way the mantis can alternate it’s temperature by moving around the tank. Humidity is not essential, and only needed to ease shedding, so keep at around 20-30% humidity, or spray 1-2 times each week
Housing and Enclosure
A fairly large enclosure will be needed for specimens of L6/7 upwards. Being a fairly long mantis, there must be enough height for successful skin shedding. Failure to do this can result in the mantis becoming entangled in its skin, and crippling the mantis. This is typical of the Gongylus, due to its very cryptic shape, and projections around the body.
The Gongylus are a sit-and-wait species, so they will rarely hunt for their prey. Put leaves and twigs in the tank to stimulate its natural habitat, but also to add interest to make it appealing to the eye. There must be a suitable surface for the mantis to grip on to, such as a mesh or net lid. Gongylus are very confident eaters, and will eat the majority of flying prey. You will find they will not take greatly to ground dwelling insects, such as crickets, locusts or worms. Not only will they not take to them, but feeding them can cause checmical reactions when producing ootheca, where no foam will be produced. Insects such as house flies, bees, dragon flies, damsel flies, moths and butterflies are all good examples of food to feed the Gongylus. 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 ash not been consumed within a day or so, should be removed.
Ootheca can hatch up to 30 nymphs, which is a relatively small amount n general. These can be fairly hard to rear, needing a 35c in the day, and 20-25c at night. They will need to be sprayed every day, maintaining a humidity of around 60%. After 2-3 days, the nymphs will readily feed on fruit flies (Drosophila sp). Cannibalism will not set in, as the Gongylus are a communal species, which can be housed together right through until death.
By far one of the most interesting of all cryptic species. Breeding the Gongylus can be very rewarding, however the journey can be a hard one, with problems cropping up with shedding of skin, especially when moulting into adult! Experience of keeping mantids will certainly be needed before acquiring some of these fine beasts.