Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi)
The spiny flower mantis is a beautiful insect found in Sub-Saharan Africa. The adult female mantis displays some spine-like structures on the base of its abdomen, i.e., towards its wing base, giving it its unique name.
- Species:P. wahlbergi
Their size varies from 1.5-2 inches. This species is overall white with green stripes on its legs. There have also been recorded variations in body colors like pink, red and yellow. Depending on light conditions, their eyes display a varying shade of purple.
The adult mantis has a big ‘swirl’ representing an eye-like pattern on its wings. This helps them to camouflage.
The spiny flower mantis displays sexual dimorphism. Adult males have shorter wings and longer antennae than the females. They also lack the unique spines found in females at the base of their wings.
Distribution: Kenya, Congo, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania.
Habitat: Natural habitats which host moist areas such as meadows and shrubs
Lifespan: 6 months in the wild. They can survive up to 10-14 months if properly taken care of in an enclosure.
Predators: Birds and spiders.
This species usually displays tranquil behavior but can show extreme agility when hunting prey, especially airborne ones. They mimic a bright flower that attracts small insects to pollinate, upon which the mantis will attack and devour them.
Their preferred diet consists of small flies, moths, and spiders. Adults also show inter-species cannibalism.
The female P. wahlbergi displays sexual cannibalism – that is, post sexual intercourse, the female usually eats up the male due to its large appetite.
1. Egg Stage
The mother mantis lays around 100-300 eggs right before winter. To protect the newly hatched eggs from the impending calamities of winter, the mother secretes a liquid covering called ootheca over the eggs. This liquid hardens and protects the eggs. The warmth of spring provides the right temperature for the baby flower mantises to hatch.
2. Nymph Stage
This stage is the newly hatched immature phase where they have no defense mechanism. This life phase is a very vulnerable phase of the mantis, and it is an easy target for predators.
It is not until the L4 instar stage that they start eating small flies and insects smaller than them. They also eat other mantis nymphs for food.
The nymphs are black and remain that way until their L3 instar stage. Their body color gets more whitish with further molting stages.
The nymph mantis starts capturing bigger prey and shedding its exoskeleton multiple times. This phase is generally seen during the summer.
3. Adult Stage
The males start searching for females to mate with as they get bigger and stronger. The female takes more molting stages than the male to reach maturity.
Taking care of P. wahlbergi is a hassle as they need a lot of space and proper care. They are common pets, but they require ideal environmental conditions to survive. Proper ventilation systems, an artificially constructed mini-habitat or enclosure, and the correct form of food are all necessary for their breeding.
Enclosure size: Thrice as tall and twice as wide as an adult mantis’s body size.
Temperature: The ideal temperature for their survival should be around 75 °F – 85 °F
Humidity: They thrive in an ideal humidity of around 60%
Feeding: Different nymph stages(L1-L5) require food appropriate to their sizes.
- L1-L2: D. melanogaster i.e. fruit flies
- L3-L4: D. hydei fruit flies
- L5-Adult: House flies or Blue-bottle flies.
They are beautiful-looking insects; witnessing them in their environment is a visual delight.
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