Stagmomantis carolina (Carolina mantis)


This medium size mantis is indigenous to the southern US and can vary greatly in color. Adults from the same ootheca have been known to turn out from gray to brown to green. They are not very aggressive when it comes to feeding. They’d rather let go of a fussy meal than fighting it.


They are a medium sized species. Females grow up to 7 cm long while males peak at 5 cm long. After the 3rd molt, 8 segments can be counted on the male’s abdomen while 6 on the females. Females have small bud wings that cover only half her abdomen while the smaller males have full usable wings.


This species of mantis relatively resistant to all kinds of conditions, although it is best to keep them in a moderate atmosphere. Keep these at 25-30 C (77-86 F)…room temperature will be just fine. Cooler temperature will slow the mantids’ metabolism and give them a bit of a longer lifespan. Keep their humidity maintained at around 60%.


Their cage should be well ventilated with lots of twigs and branches. They are relatively small so a sufficient tank is enough. The general rule for caging is 3x the mantis’ length for the height and 2x for the width and length dimensions. They are very aggressive towards each other so nymphs must be separated as soon as possible.


This species is a generalist feeder. Start out with fruit flies for nymphs and move to small crickets, house flies, moths, and larger crickets for larger nymphs and adults. These do not need any further coaxing to eat. If they are hungry and they see something crawling around, they will pursue it and catch it themselves. 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, mist nymphs lightly everyday and two to three times a week for adults.


A mantis will stop eating a few days prior to its molt. Mantises molt about every 2 weeks as babies 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 8 molts for females and about 7 for males. That’s why males tend to mature earlier than females and they also die faster. To pair up a pair of male and female, speed up the growth rate of the females while slowing down the males’ with cooler temperature and less feedings…once the female has molted, speed up the male’s growth to molt him out. 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.


This species can be easy to breed. After 2 weeks since their last molt, introduce the female into the male’s enclosure near him. A mature male will respond quickly. It could take hours before the male does anything though. He will jump on her back and hold on for dear life. The female can be distracted with food prior to this to make it easier on the male. While she is busy eating, she wont be able to grab him as he mounts her. 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.


After two weeks or so, the females will be laying her oothecae (plural for ootheca). This species can lay around 5-10 oothecae. Remove the females from the oothecae or the oothecae from the females afterward. After 6 weeks or so of incubation at 30 C (86 F) and 70% humidity, 20-60 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.

Additional Notes: the hatchlings are very timid and eat very little. They move around a lot and are quite jumpy. After 16 days or so, they molt their first molt. They increased their size only slightly and still hold the same banded leg pattern.
After several molts, the mantids have become more increasingly cannibalistic and I’ve had to resort to separating them into different containers. The females have developed the wide abdomen while the males’ remain long and thin.