The Orchid Mantis, or Hymenopus coronatus, is one of the most stunning insects on the planet. It’s famous ability to mimic an orchid, with deep pinks, purples and whites, it what has made the orchid mantis such a desirable species. The Hymenopus coronatus originates from Malaysia, however has slowly crept into captivity.
As described by their name, the Orchid Mantis look like… an orchid. With white/pink projections over their legs, neck, and abdomen, they can make a fantastic camouflage when placed on an orchid. Males are distinctively smaller than females, with a much thinner body and less bulbas abdomen.
Some orchid mantises are totally white, whilst some have the pink/purple colourings. The actual colour of the mantis is very dependant on the environmental conditions, such as diet, lighting, humidity and surrounding. In the wild, regardless of colour, the Hymenopus coronatus would typically be found on orchids, flowers and insect-attracting shrubs.
As adult, both species possess fully grown wings, and the male can fly very well. Females can reach up to 6cm, wild caught specimens usually being slightly longer. Males will reach a maximum of 3cm, and are mostly under half the length of the female! This is the easiest way of determining sex, but can also be done by using the usual method, 8 segments for the male, and 6 or 7 for the female.
Humidity and Temperature
If pairs are being grown on to breed, then it is essential to change the growth rates of each species. Males must be slowed down, as naturally, they grow a lot faster than females. To do this, you must keep at cooler temperatures, and feed less than females. Around 15-18c will be the best for males, which will keep their growth rate very slow, but give them enough heat to metabolise. Females can be kept from 30-55c, and this will be the maximum temperature to increase growth rate. Humidity is essential, as the Hymenopus comes from Malaysia, a naturally humid country. This can be done by simply spraying the enclosure once a day. Substrate, like soil, peat, coconut fibre or kitchen towel can be used to keep humidity levels high. This will also help overcome any problems with shedding.
Housing and Enclosure
Being a tropical species from Malaysia, in captivity you will need to replicate these conditions for the orchid mantis as closely as possible. Generally this means a fairly high humidity (around 60-70%), and relatively high temperatures between 25-35c. The ideal temperature is in the middle – around 28c. Nighttime temperatures can drop to around 18-20c.
Males typically mature faster than females, so keep males at a cooler temperature (around 20c) will slow their growth if you’re looking to achieve adult stages at a similar time.
Whilst high humidity is recommended for larger nymphs and adults, the nymphs will be better suited to lower humidities – death in young orchid mantis nymphs can often be as a result of over spraying. As a result you should spray the enclosure just once every 5-7 days.
Enclosures should be well ventilated to allow a good flow of air, and to allow stagnant air to dissipate. As with most mantis enclosures, it’s recommended to have at least 1 mesh or net side on your orchid mantis enclosure – this is usually done with either the top of the enclosure or a mesh/net door on the front. Either way is fine (or any way), just as long as there is ample ventilation, and not a sealed unit.
In terms of height and width, the enclosure should be at least 3 times the length of the mantis in height to ensure ample room for skin shedding, and at least 2 times the length in width. The addition of extra branches and artificial flowers makes for a much more attractive enclosure.
Orchid mantis diet
Hymenopus coronatus feed primarily on flying insects in their nature habitat, which is why they are usually found on flowers. This would normally consist of pollen feeding flying insects (bees, wasps, moths, butterflies, etc), however this can be difficult to achieve in captivity.
Bluebottles and greenbottles can be the easiest food types (you can buy maggots from tackle shops and hatch them out, allowing the flies to feed on a honey mixture to gut load them slightly). But any other flying insects found outside or inside would be gladly received by the orchid mantis.
Young nymphs will happily feed on fruit flies, but larger pray will need to be introduced after L3/4 stage.
If flying pray isn’t achievable, then you can feed on crickets or locusts – but this is not recommended as a staple.
There have been many accounts of live food eating the mantis, so any food which has not been consumed within a day or so, should be removed.
Breeding Orchid Mantis
As mentioned above, the growth of the males and females will be very different, with males growing at a much faster rate. Therefore if you want to successfully mate your orchid mantis pairs, you will need to keep the males at a much lower temperature, and try to slow down the feeding cycles so the females are eating more.
Around 3 weeks after the final moult into adult, you can then introduce your male to the female. As a much larger, more aggressive specimen, the female orchid mantis should be well fed, and ideally eating at the time the male is introduced.
Orchid mantis ootheca will vary hugely in size, but you can expect to hatch up to about 90 young, all of which will emerge as jet black and red, skittish nymphs. Even from young nymphs, Orchid mantis are very ferocious when feeding, and will happily eat prey the same size – or bigger – when offered.
Once he has picked up her pheromones, he should make an advance and attempt to start mating.
Here are a few useful resources to other websites on the Orchid mantis:
I’ve also embedded a video below of a short orchid mantis documentary which was shown a few years back in the states, but gives a nice insight into natural habitat, colouration, camouflage, feeding, etc:
Orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) Gallery
Please note the photos below have been collected from the web for reference, and each image links back to it’s original source. I don’t claim any copyright over these, and if you’ve got an image here that you’re not comfortable with and would like to be removed, then please get in touch.
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