Devil’s Flower Mantis: Your Quick Guide to This Fascinating Insect

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The Devil’s Flower Mantis, also known as Idolomantis diabolica, is an extraordinary and fascinating insect. These enchanting creatures are among the largest praying mantises, renowned for their vibrant colors and unique appearance which closely resembles flowers. They are native to East Africa and are often sought after by insect enthusiasts due to their captivating looks and intriguing behavior.

As ambush predators, Devil’s Flower Mantises have developed an exceptional adaptation for camouflage. Their body shape and intricate patterns closely mimic the flowers they inhabit, allowing them to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. This cunning disguise not only helps them hide from potential predators but also plays a crucial role in luring prey, such as flies and bees, which they capture using their lightning-fast reflexes and powerful raptorial front legs.

When it comes to keeping a Devil’s Flower Mantis as a pet, there are some specific requirements that need to be met in order to provide the ideal environment for these delicate creatures. For instance, they need ample space for proper movement and should be housed in a well-ventilated enclosure, preferably one that mimics their natural habitat. Additionally, maintaining an appropriate temperature range and humidity level is essential for their overall health and well-being.

Overview of Devil’s Flower Mantis

Scientific Name and Classification

The Devil’s Flower Mantis, also known as Idolomantis diabolica, is a distinct species of praying mantis from the family Empusidae. This unique insect is famous for its captivating appearance and alluring behavior.

Distribution and Habitat

Devil’s Flower Mantis predominantly inhabits regions in:

  • Tanzania
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya

These African countries offer a diverse range of habitats for this fascinating insect. It typically prefers living in subtropical and tropical environments, surrounded by lush vegetation, where it can easily hide and hunt for prey.

Key features of the Devil’s Flower Mantis include:

  • Striking appearance that mimics a flower
  • Mottled coloration for camouflage
  • Raptorial front legs for capturing prey

Characteristics of this species:

  • Hides among colorful flowers
  • Attracts prey using its alluring display
  • Sways gently like a flower to entice potential prey

While it’s not a method or product, it’s worth noting some key pros and cons of studying the Devil’s Flower Mantis for better understanding:

Pros:

  • Offers insight into unique adaptation strategies
  • Contributes to the understanding of mimicry in insects

Cons:

  • Limited distribution makes it difficult to observe in the wild
  • Its captivating appearance may lead to over-collection by enthusiasts

Here is a comparison table between Idolomantis diabolica and Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina):

Features Idolomantis diabolica Carolina Mantis
Distribution Africa North America
Habitat Subtropical, tropical Forests, grasslands
Coloration Mottled Green, light brown
Size Large Smaller
Mimicry Flower appearance Camouflage coloration

By understanding the unique features and characteristics of the Devil’s Flower Mantis, we can appreciate its role in nature as well as its remarkable adaptations for survival in the wild.

Physical Appearance and Characteristics

Size and Coloration

The Devil’s Flower Mantis, also known as the Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis or Idolomantis diabolica, is one of the largest praying mantis species. They can grow up to 5 inches (13 cm) in length. Their coloration is striking, with a combination of:

  • Red
  • White
  • Black
  • Green
  • Blue

These colors aid in their camouflage, blending them seamlessly into their surroundings.

Unique Features

Some of the distinct features of the Devil’s Flower Mantis include:

  • Compound eyes: Large and prominent, allowing them a wider range of vision.
  • Antennae: Used for detecting and locating prey.
  • Wings: Although present, they are not primarily used for flying.
  • Legs: Equipped with strong, sharp legs for catching and holding prey.
  • Mandibles: Used for biting and consuming prey.

These mantises exhibit a remarkable deimatic display where they show off their vibrant colors and unique markings to intimidate potential predators. Their abdominal segments contribute to their unique look, enhancing their camouflage and appearance as a flower.

The Devil’s Flower Mantis relies on its physical appearance and characteristics for both predation and protection. These aspects make them a fascinating subject for entomologists and insect enthusiasts alike.

Behavior and Adaptations

Hunting and Prey

The Devil’s Flower Mantis primarily feeds on insects like flies and moths. Adult mantises have a varied diet, while younger nymphs focus on fruit flies due to their smaller size. Some common prey for adult mantises include:

  • Blue bottle flies
  • House flies

Hunting technique:

  • Wait for prey to approach
  • Use camouflage to blend in
  • Rapidly strike with raptorial legs

Comparing Diet between Adults and Nymphs

Life Stage Prey
Adults Flies, moths
Nymphs Fruit flies

Camouflage and Mimicry

Devil’s Flower Mantis uses effective camouflage and mimicry as part of its hunting strategy. Some key features include:

  • Resembling flower petals
  • Blending with surrounding vegetation
  • Staying still to avoid detection

This species’ camouflage allows them to remain unnoticed while waiting for their prey.

Deimatic Display and Predators

When faced with potential predators, Devil’s Flower Mantis exhibits an elaborate deimatic display:

  • Wings spread wide
  • Bright colors revealed
  • Intimidating posture

This helps deter predators and protect themselves. Common predators of mantis species include:

  • Birds
  • Spiders
  • Frogs

Listing out the main points in bullet points:

  • Behavior: Hunting, camouflage, deimatic display
  • Predators: Birds, spiders, frogs
  • Prey: Flies, moths (adults), fruit flies (nymphs)

The Devil’s Flower Mantis showcases fascinating behaviors and adaptations to thrive in its environment, from effective hunting strategies to clever methods of avoiding predators.

Caring for Devil’s Flower Mantis as Pets

Enclosure Requirements

When setting up a home for your Devil’s Flower Mantis, consider the following:

  • Enclosure size: Aim for a terrarium at least 3 times the mantis’ length in height and 2 times in width
  • Ventilation: Ensure proper airflow with a mesh top
  • Substrate: Combine soil and sand for a natural environment

Temperature and Humidity

It’s crucial to maintain appropriate conditions for your mantis:

  • Temperature: Keep the enclosure between 75°F and 85°F, using a low-wattage LED light for additional warmth if needed
  • Humidity: Maintain a 60%-80% humidity level; mist the enclosure as necessary

Pros:

  • Proper enclosure setup leads to a happier and healthier mantis
  • Controlled temperature and humidity ensure longevity

Cons:

  • Requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance

Food and Feeding Schedule

Caring for a Devil’s Flower Mantis includes a specific diet:

Here’s a feeding schedule for various mantis life stages:

  • Nymphs (L1-L3): Feed daily (fruit flies)
  • Nymphs (L4-L5): Feed every other day (small crickets)
  • Adults: Feed every 2-3 days (larger insects)

Comparison table: Development stage vs. Feeding schedule

Stage Feeding schedule Food source
Nymph Daily Fruit flies
Nymph Every other day Small crickets
Adult Every 2-3 days Larger insects

Remember to keep the feeding schedule consistent, and avoid overfeeding. Keep your Devil’s Flower Mantis happy and healthy with this proper care guide.

Reproduction and Lifecycle

Sexual Dimorphism

In the Devil’s Flower Mantis, males and females exhibit sexual dimorphism. Males are generally smaller, have longer antennae, and thinner bodies than females. Here are the key differences:

  • Males: Smaller, longer antennae, thinner bodies
  • Females: Larger, shorter antennae, thicker bodies

Breeding and Oothecae

During breeding, the male mounts the female, and the process of transferring sperm begins. After mating, the female lays a protective case called an ootheca, which contains multiple eggs. Mothers do not survive long after laying the ootheca, but the case provides a durable shelter that enables the eggs to develop and endure winter.

Molting Process

As the Devil’s Flower Mantis ages, it undergoes a molting process to grow. Each life stage, or instar, is marked by a molt where the mantis sheds its old exoskeleton. The molting process can be a stressful experience, especially if the mantis is disturbed, but it is an essential part of the insect’s life cycle.

Sexual Cannibalism

Sexual cannibalism has been observed in the Devil’s Flower Mantis, where the female devours the male during or after mating. This behavior can provide the female with additional nutrients needed for successful reproduction.

Diet and Prey

Carnivorous Diet

The Devil’s Flower Mantis has a carnivorous diet, primarily feeding on live insects. Some common prey items include:

  • Crickets
  • Mealworms
  • Roaches

This mantis species often lies in wait on flowers, disguised as a flower itself, ready to snatch any unsuspecting prey that comes too close.

Feeding on Flying Insects

Another important prey group for the Devil’s Flower Mantis are flying insects. They are attracted to many types of flying insects, like:

  • Moths
  • Flies
  • Bees

Comparison between prey groups:

Crickets, Mealworms, Roaches Flying Insects (Moths, Flies, Bees)
Movement Crawling Flying
Attraction Lured through smell, color, and taste of Devil’s Flower Mantis Attracted to flowers and the mantis’ disguise

The Devil’s Flower Mantis has an incredible ability to adapt its hunting strategy based on the type of prey it encounters. By camouflaging itself as a flower, it can easily ambush flying and crawling insects alike.

Interaction with Humans

Is It Dangerous?

Devil’s Flower Mantis is not particularly dangerous to humans, as they are skittish insects that mainly use their front legs to catch prey. However, if threatened, they might engage in a deimatic display, which involves raising their thorax and displaying bright colors to scare off potential predators. This behavior is mostly harmless and does not pose a significant threat to humans.

Caring for a Captive Mantis

Caring for a captive Devil’s Flower Mantis requires attention to several factors. Here are the key aspects to consider:

  • Lifespan: They have a lifespan of around 12 months, shorter than many other praying mantises.
  • Environment: Mimic their natural habitat by providing sticks and foliage in their enclosure.
  • Temperature: Maintain a temperature of 75-85°F (24-29°C) during the day and slightly cooler at night.
  • Humidity: Keep humidity levels around 60-80% to promote healthy molting.

Some tips for caring for your captive mantis:

  • Keep them in a well-ventilated enclosure, such as a mesh cage, to ensure proper airflow.
  • Feed them small insects like flies or crickets, but be cautious not to overfeed them.
  • Regularly mist the enclosure to maintain humidity levels, but avoid creating a damp environment.
  • Provide horizontal perches for the mantis to hang onto during molting.

Pros and cons of keeping a Devil’s Flower Mantis as a pet:

Pros Cons
Strikingly beautiful Can be delicate to handle
Intriguing behavior Requires specific temperature and humidity conditions
Unique deimatic display Shorter lifespan compared to other mantises
Low aggression towards humans May be more challenging to care for than other insects

Environment and Enrichment

Creating a Naturalistic Environment

To create a naturalistic environment for a Devil’s Flower Mantis, consider the following:

  • Substrate: Use a combination of substrate like coco fiber, peat moss, or a mix of these.
  • Decoration and hiding spots: Add twigs and dried leaves for climbing and hiding.
  • Oothecae: Ensure proper space for attaching oothecae.
Element Requirement
Substrate Coco fiber, peat moss
Decorations Twigs, dried leaves
Space for oothecae Adequate

Providing Enrichment

Boosting the Devil’s Flower Mantis’ overall environment involves:

  • Heat: Use a heat lamp or heat mat to maintain the temperature around 27°C (80.6°F) during the day, dropping to 21°C (69.8°F) at night.
  • Cleaning: Replace substrate regularly and clean surfaces with paper towels to prevent mold, bacteria, and other unwanted invaders.
  • Feeding: Offer a diet with variety, such as flies, crickets, and moths, to add interest and mimic the natural hunting experience.
Feature Importance
Temperature control (Heat) Maintains a comfortable living environment
Cleaning Prevents the growth of mold and bacteria
Varied diet (Feeding) Enhances mental stimulation and nutrition

Remember, a well-maintained environment with enrichment will contribute to the overall health and happiness of your Devil’s Flower Mantis, allowing it to thrive throughout its lifespan. With these tips, you’ll create a captivating habitat that will keep both you and your mantis fascinated and engaged throughout its life.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Egyptian Flower Mantis from Iraq

 

Subject: Mantis
Location: Iraq
August 2, 2012 9:37 pm
I found this Mantis in Iraq back in 2007. Over the past few years I keep meaning to send in the pictures but I keep forgetting. I thought it looked rather unique and just wanted to share it with other insect lovers. Photos were taken in early May 2007.
Signature: Kevin F

Egyptian Flower Mantis

Hi Kevin,
A web search of “mantis Iraq” quickly produced a matching photo of an Egyptian Flower Mantis on the Arthropods of Iraq blog.  The species,
Blepharopsis mendica, is also known as the Devils Flower Mantis.  Upon searching our archives with the scientific name, we found this posting from 2010 of a nymph that we identified as having he common name Checkered Mantis.  We love both of your photos, and the threat posture is especially dramatic.

Egyptian Flower Mantis

Letter 2 – Egyptian Flower Mantis from Iraq

 

Subject: Mantis?
Location: Baghdad, Iraq
March 13, 2016 10:03 pm
This insect is wreaking havoc on the ant population on base! What is it?
Signature: Tami

Preying Mantis
Egyptian Flower Mantis

Dear Tami,
With its speckled wings and red antennae, this really is a pretty Egyptian Flower Mantis,
Blepharopsis mendica. 

Letter 3 – Egyptian Flower Mantis from Oman

 

Subject: Green Omani Mantis ?
Location: Adam, Oman
September 14, 2016 4:28 am
Hi BugMan,
What’s this beautiful creature ? Seen in the desert in Oman, just SE of Adam
Cheers,
Signature: Blewyn

Egyptian Flower Mantis
Egyptian Flower Mantis

Dear Blewyn,
An insect’s common name frequently refers to a location, perhaps where it was first discovered or perhaps because it is common there, but insects have never respected international borders or walls.  Though your sighting was in Oman, we believe this is an Egyptian Flower Mantis,
Blepharopsis mendica.  Keeping Insects calls this a Thistle Mantis and states:  “This species of praying mantis is creamy-white to beige with light green stripes and light green ‘veins’ on the wings as adults. On its back this mantis has a small pointed shield under which the forearms are being kept. The inside of the front legs are orange and blue white white spots. These colors are shown in the threatening posture to deter predators. Blepharopsis mendica will grow to a size of about 5 to 6 cm, with little difference in size between the sexes. The males are more slender with wings that reach a little bit over the end of the abdomen. The females are bulkier with a wider prothorax and with wings that extend to just the end of the abdomen. The females have thin antennae while adult males have feathered antennae (antennae with large thick ‘hairs’ on it).”  The description of the antennae indicates this is a male. iNaturalist also uses the common name Egyptian Flower Mantis and also lists Oman as being in the range of the species.

Egyptian Flower Mantis
Egyptian Flower Mantis

Shukran Jazilan ! (as the locals might say around here)

Ed. Note:  Translation of Arabic into English found at My Memory is  “thank you a lot .”

Reader Emails

93085

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Immature Mantis from Africa

 

Subject:  Mantid Identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Africa
Date: 01/02/2018
Time: 04:46 PM EDT
Hi!
I’ve been looking for a few weeks trying to identify a mantid I got that lost her label where I got her from and the person I got her from also has no idea of her species without the label, please could you help to try to identify her?
Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  A.H.

Mantis Nymph

Dear A.H.,
This is an immature Mantis, and they are more difficult to identify than adults of the species.  We are posting your images and perhaps one of our readers will write in with a proper identification.

Mantis Nymph

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Devil's Flower Mantis

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