How to take care of your new buggy friend! How long will my mantis live? The lifespan of your mantis will depend on the instar (L1-L8) that you purchased your mantis at as well as the species and gender. On average male mantis will live 6 months if purchased at L2/L3 and female mantis can live up to a year if purchased at L2/L3. We typically sell mantis in the L2-L3 instar range so that they are well established before leaving us and will be able to grow and mature for a long time with their new owner! Instar indicates how many moults a mantis has had in its lifetime. For example an L1 (1 Instar) nymph has just hatched, an L2 (2 Instar) has molted once since hatching, an L3 has molted twice since hatching etc. Depending on the species a mantis typically has 6-8 moults (instar) before reaching adulthood.
How should I keep my mantis? Mantis can be kept in a variety of ways but each species is a little different. Typically they can be kept in a 32 oz standard industry insect cup with the poly fiber lids and some plastic screen or mesh to crawl on. Mantis are unable to really grip onto metal screen cages very well which leads to a lot of mismoults and death so while people have successfully kept them in metal screen caging we do not suggest it. Instead we suggest simple mesh cages or plastic cages. A great screen cage we personally recommend is the “Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden” kit. It is designed specifically for butterflies but works perfectly for mantis as well. It is a smaller cage so it fits nicely on to desks or shelves. It can be purchased from Amazon for $12-$15. Walmart has a great inexpensive option for a large cage as well in the form of a “2 way Pop Up Hamper”. They are $7-$8 and rather large but Idolomantis typically need this size cage to thrive. While most mantis do not need additional heat, some of the desert species do! We keep the following species with heat lamps at an ambient temperature of 90-105F: -Idolomantis Diabolica -Desert Thistle (B.Mendica) -Violin Mantis For décor in the screen cages we typically add dried up twigs or bits of cut up plastic mesh. You are also able to get creative with the caging! Acrylic/Polycarbonate caging is not a bad option for a nice display tank we would just suggest gluing plastic mesh to the lid and sides to help the mantis molt and be able to hang upside down. Mantis love to hang upside-down so be sure to provide a lot of hanging spaces! What should I feed my mantis? Feeding a mantis is probably the most exciting part of owning one! They can eat everything from moths to roaches. We raise our mantis on a diet of fruit flies, curly winged house flies, blue bottle flies, and roaches. Baby mantis typically eat large fruit flies until L4 or so (depending on the species) and then graduate to either small roaches, crickets, or house flies depending on what you want to feed them and gradually increase the prey size as they grow! Mealworms, butterworms, and hornworms are also excellent sources of prey. While we are not able to provide any kind of guarantee on our mantis (beyond overnight live arrival) we are always happy to help answer questions!