Spiny Flower Mantis: Quick Guide to This Intriguing Insect

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The Spiny Flower Mantis is a fascinating creature that has captured the attention of many due to its unique appearance and behavior. As a member of the praying mantis family, it stands out with its distinctive spines and vibrant colors. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into what makes this insect so intriguing and why it might be of interest to you.

Native to southern and eastern Africa, the Spiny Flower Mantis is a small, but striking insect. Its name is derived from the prominent spines adorning its body, as well as its tendency to camouflage itself among flowers. This incredible feature allows it to blend in with its surroundings, making it a formidable predator for unsuspecting prey.

This extraordinary insect is not only a fascinating topic for enthusiasts but also provides valuable insights into the world of insects and their survival strategies. By learning more about the Spiny Flower Mantis, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the intricacies and marvels of nature. So, let’s explore all there is to know about this captivating creature.

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Origins and Habitat

The Spiny Flower Mantis has its roots in Africa, specifically found throughout sub-Saharan, southern, and eastern regions of the continent. They thrive in these areas due to the favorable climate and diverse vegetation. Eastern Africa, for instance, provides a suitable habitat for these exotic insects.

The Spiny Flower Mantis is often found in blossoming plants, as it relies on its unique appearance to blend seamlessly with the flora around it. This is a form of camouflage, which aids in both hunting prey and avoiding predators. For example, they are commonly seen in colorful plants like hibiscus and bougainvillea.

As you may already know, the habitat and environment of the mantis play a significant role in its survival and wellbeing. Here are some essential features of its habitat:

  • Warm and tropical climates
  • Abundant flowering plants
  • Sufficient humidity for proper molting

In comparison to other mantis species, the Spiny Flower Mantis has some distinct characteristics that make it stand out. These include:

  • Bright coloration, with white, green, and pink hues
  • Prominent spines on its legs and thorax
  • Ability to sway and mimic the movement of flowers

As you learn more about the Spiny Flower Mantis, always remember that their habitat and origins play an essential role in their unique characteristics and behaviors.

Characteristics of Spiny Flower Mantis


The Spiny Flower Mantis is a stunning insect with a variety of colors and patterns. Its body is primarily white, adorned with green stripes and other striking markings. Most notably, the mantis has eyespots on its forewings, which resemble large, staring eyes. These eyespots can range from green to blue, making for an impressive display.

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexual dimorphism is evident in the Spiny Flower Mantis. Adult males and females can be distinguished by the size and shape of their abdomens, as well as the length of their antennae. Here’s a simple comparison table to help you understand the differences:

Feature Males Females
Abdomen Narrow Broad
Antennae Longer Shorter
Overall Size Smaller Larger

Unique Features

The Spiny Flower Mantis boasts a range of fascinating features, such as:

  • Spines and barbs: These projections adorn the mantis’ legs and provide excellent camouflage among vegetation.
  • Green stripes: They can be found along the body and legs, helping the mantis blend in with plant life.
  • Orange spots: Present on the insides of the forelegs, acting as an additional line of defense when faced with predators.

In conclusion, the Spiny Flower Mantis is an intriguing insect with a unique appearance and fascinating features that make it stand out in the world of mantids.

Life Cycle and Maturity of Spiny Flower Mantis

The life cycle of a Spiny Flower Mantis begins with the female laying egg sacs, also known as oothecae. Nurturing these egg sacs is a crucial part of ensuring the survival of the next generation of mantises. Over time, these eggs hatch and the baby mantises, known as nymphs, emerge.

As nymphs grow, they go through a process called molting. During this period, the mantis sheds its exoskeleton to make room for its growing body. Molting occurs several times until the mantis reaches maturity. The L3 instar stage is a significant milestone, as the mantis begins to resemble its adult form more closely.

When the Spiny Flower Mantis reaches maturity, you’ll notice several key characteristics. They develop impressive wing structures, bright colors, and distinctive patterns that help them blend into their environment. These visual features play an essential role in both attracting a mate and evading predators.

Here are some interesting features of Spiny Flower Mantis you should remember:

  • Nymphs are the early stage of the Spiny Flower Mantis lifecycle.
  • Molting is a necessary process for their growth and development.
  • L3 instar stage signifies a shift to more adult-like characteristics.
  • Maturity brings vibrant colors, patterns, and wings to facilitate survival and reproduction.

Always bear in mind the significance of each stage in the Spiny Flower Mantis lifecycle and how it helps these captivating creatures survive in their natural habitat. Happy observing!

Spiny Flower Mantis Behavior and Mating

The Spiny Flower Mantis has fascinating behavior patterns. These insects are ambush predators, remaining stationary to blend in with their surroundings and wait for prey. Their primary diet consists of small insects like flies and moths.

During the mating process, males approach females cautiously to avoid becoming a meal. That’s right – sexual cannibalism is a possibility in the mantis world, with the female sometimes consuming the male after mating.

A few highlights of Spiny Flower Mantis characteristics include:

  • Vibrant coloration for camouflage among flowers
  • Unique wing patterns resembling flowers
  • Raptorial front legs for capturing prey

While these creatures are primarily active during the daytime, their breeding habits can vary. Female mantises typically lay eggs within a protective case called an ootheca to ensure the survival of future generations.

Don’t underestimate the importance of mating rituals for these insects. Males may dance around the female to show their interest, and only proceed if the female appears receptive. This delicate dance helps reduce the instances of cannibalistic mating behaviors.

Remember, observing and understanding the behavior of the Spiny Flower Mantis can provide valuable insight into their unique world. Appreciate their intricate mating rituals, and marvel at how they capture prey and navigate their environments.

Adapting the Environment

As a Spiny Flower Mantis owner, it’s crucial to optimize the conditions of your mantis’s living environment. Let’s explore some factors to consider:

  • Temperature: Keep the temperature between 75-85°F (24-29°C) during the day, allowing it to drop slightly at night. You can achieve this by using a heating pad or lamp, but be cautious not to overheat the habitat.
  • Humidity: Maintain humidity levels between 50-60% to ensure your mantis stays hydrated and comfortable. You can use a spray bottle or a commercial humidity control system to achieve this balance.

Examples of setups include:

  • A mesh or screen enclosure with decent ventilation for airflow.
  • Substrates like coconut fiber or sphagnum moss that help maintain humidity.

Maintaining adequate ventilation is crucial to prevent fungal infections or mold growth. Mesh enclosures work well for this purpose, allowing enough airflow and reducing humidity buildup.

Compare these requirements to two other common mantids:

Species Temperature Humidity
Spiny Flower Mantis 75-85°F (24-29°C) 50-60%
Carolina Mantis 70-80°F (21-27°C) 40-70%
Chinese Mantis 70-80°F (21-27°C) 40-70%

As a responsible mantis owner, be sure to keep these environmental factors in mind and make necessary adjustments when needed. Monitoring the temperature, humidity, and ventilation will help ensure your Spiny Flower Mantis thrives in its new habitat. Happy mantis caring!

Enclosure and Housing for Spiny Flower Mantis

When setting up an enclosure for your Spiny Flower Mantis, it is important to consider the size and material. A common option is to use a screen or mesh cage that provides proper ventilation. You can choose a cage that is at least twice the size of your mantis, allowing them to move comfortably and grow.

To create a natural environment for your mantis, consider adding a variety of silk plants. These artificial plants not only offer places to climb and hide, but they also make maintenance easier since they don’t require watering or trimming.

Remember to keep your Spiny Flower Mantis hydrated by lightly misting the enclosure every day or two. Yet, avoid over-spraying, as excessive humidity can lead to mold or respiratory issues.

With these thoughts in mind, your Spiny Flower Mantis should have a happy and healthy home that suits their needs and allows them to thrive.

Feeding and Diet

The Spiny Flower Mantis mostly feeds on various insects, primarily focusing on flies and other flying bugs. They also occasionally consume other flower mantises, crickets, and moths. When you’re housing and feeding them, make sure to provide a variety of feeder insects, such as:

  • Fruit flies
  • House flies
  • Blue bottle flies
  • Crickets
  • Mealworms

Keep track of their appetite, as it’s important to maintain a healthy feeding schedule for your Spiny Flower Mantis. Maintaining a clean and hospitable environment is crucial as well. Keep the substrate tidy and ensure that the mantis’s living space is clutter-free to prevent any potential health issues or hiding spots for feeder insects.

As a predator, the Spiny Flower Mantis relies on its camouflage to detect and ambush its prey. It’s important to provide appropriate perches in their environment where they can stalk their prey effectively. When feeding your mantis, always make sure that the feeder insects are an appropriate size in comparison to the mantis to avoid any issues during the feeding process.

In conclusion, taking care of your Spiny Flower Mantis’s feeding and diet mainly involves providing a variety of appropriately-sized feeder insects, monitoring their appetite, and maintaining a clean and suitable environment for them to thrive in. With the right care and attention, your Spiny Flower Mantis can live a healthy and happy life.

Care and Maintenance

Caring for a Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi, also known as the Spiny Flower Mantis, can be both rewarding and enjoyable. In this care guide, you’ll find tips on how to maintain a healthy environment for these beautiful creatures.

Creating the right environment starts with hydration. It’s crucial to maintain proper humidity without causing mold growth. To achieve this, lightly mist the enclosure daily with either spring water or distilled water. Remember to avoid over-saturating the substrate.

Some key points to remember while tending to your Spiny Flower Mantis:

  • Temperature: Keep the enclosure at a temperature between 22-30°C (72-86°F). Invest in a reliable thermometer to monitor this.
  • Lighting: Provide around 12 hours of light per day, using either natural or artificial sources.
  • Enclosure: Opt for a well-ventilated mesh or screen cage with ample space for the mantis to move around.
  • Substrate: Choose a mold-resistant substrate, such as peat moss or coconut coir, to help maintain humidity.

Feeding your Spiny Flower Mantis is an essential part of its care requirements. They primarily consume flying insects like fruit flies, houseflies, and sometimes small crickets. Always ensure that the prey is appropriately-sized, not exceeding the width of the mantis’ head.

In summary, taking care of your Spiny Flower Mantis involves providing a sufficiently-sized, well-ventilated enclosure with proper hydration, temperature, lighting, and nutritious food. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii thrives in a healthy environment.

Spiny Flower Mantis as Pets

The Spiny Flower Mantis is a captivating pet for those who appreciate its colorful appearance and unique behavior. These beautiful praying mantises are known for their vibrant colors and intricate patterns, which make them a visually stunning addition to your home.

They primarily feed on flying insects, so providing a varied diet is crucial for their health. As pets, these mantises are low-maintenance and can be easily cared for by following a few basic principles.

Here are some features of the Spiny Flower Mantis:

  • Brightly colored and patterned body
  • Adept at camouflage, blending into flower environments
  • Prone to striking, impressive poses and displays

When considering a Spiny Flower Mantis as a pet, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons:


  • Low-maintenance care requirements
  • Visually stunning and entertaining to observe
  • Unique behavior and natural history


  • The need to provide a variety of flying insects for feeding
  • Short lifespan compared to other pets
  • Not ideal for handling due to their fragile nature

In conclusion, Spiny Flower Mantises make excellent pets for individuals who appreciate their beauty and fascinating behavior. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy sharing your home with these colorful and intriguing creatures.

Other Types of Mantises

Besides the unique Spiny Flower Mantis, there are numerous other fascinating mantises that you might come across. In this section, we’ll briefly discuss a few noteworthy species like the Pseudocreobotra, Orchid Mantis, and Ghost Mantis.

Pseudocreobotra: Also known as the Spiny Flower Mantis, Pseudocreobotra displays vibrant colors and unique patterns. Its wings resemble flowers, aiding in camouflage. As a predator, it’s quite skilled in capturing its prey using its spiked forelegs.

Orchid Mantis: The Orchid Mantis is an astonishing species known for its orchid-like appearance. With its pink and white coloration, it’s a master at blending in with flowers to lure and ambush unsuspecting prey. When you encounter one, you might even mistake it for a delicate flower.

Ghost Mantis: Living up to its name, the Ghost Mantis looks like a slender, leafy ghost. It has an earthy-brown coloring which makes it resemble dead leaves, providing excellent camouflage. This mysterious and elusive mantis might seem a bit spooky, but it’s just as fascinating as its counterparts.

When it comes to different mantids, these three species are striking examples of the mantis family’s diversity. Each one has its unique characteristics, such as the Pseudocreobotra’s spiny appearance, the Orchid Mantis’s floral mimicry, and the Ghost Mantis’s incredible camouflage. All these mantids are fascinating creatures, and learning more about them can only enhance your appreciation for the natural world.


In summary, the Spiny Flower Mantis is a fascinating insect that has become popular among insect enthusiasts. It’s known for its unique appearance, featuring a colorful and spiny body that sets it apart from other mantises. As you’ve learned, these insects are generally easy to care for, making them an ideal choice for those interested in keeping them as pets.

When considering housing a Spiny Flower Mantis, remember to provide:

  • A suitable enclosure with proper ventilation
  • Appropriate humidity levels
  • A steady supply of suitable prey

Some benefits of having Spiny Flower Mantis as a pet include their captivating appearance, low maintenance needs, and the opportunity to observe their natural behaviors. However, keep in mind that they have a relatively short lifespan and may not be suitable for those looking for a long-term pet commitment.

Now that you’re informed about the basics of Spiny Flower Mantis care, you’re ready to embark on an exciting journey of raising and observing these remarkable insects. Enjoy the experience and don’t forget to share your newfound knowledge with fellow enthusiasts!

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 Spiny Flower Mantis from South Africa

Thought you might like the pics.

Immature Spiny Flower Mantis

Thought you might like the pics.
Location: Durban, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
November 25, 2010 12:34 pm
I spotted this little critter sitting in a flower bush outside my backdoor. I believe its an Immature Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra Ocellata) – hope thats right! In one of the pics, its chewing on a bee! Beautiful little prey mantis.
Signature: Ryan

Immature Spiny Flower Mantis

Dear Ryan,
The Spiny Flower Mantis from South Africa is one of the most spectacular of the numerous Preying Mantis species found around the world, and we are lucky to be able to post your awesome photographs.  We are thrilled that we can also tag your letter as Food Chain because of the image where the immature Spiny Flower Mantis is feeding upon a bee.  We are not certain how to distinguish
Pseudocreobotra ocellata from Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii, and the Zooillogix website doesn’t provide any description.

Letter 2 – Spiny Flower Mantis

What’s this bug?? Some type of Preying Mantis
Hallo there.
I stay in Tzaneen, South Africa. I found this Praying Mantis on the flowers of a Duranta shrub. Looks like it might be the African Mantis. Any comments would be appreciated. Regards
Johan van Eeden

Hi Johan,
This is indeed a Preying Mantis, a Spiny Flower Mantis, Pseudocreobotra ocellata or Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii.

Letter 3 – Spiny Flower Mantis from South Africa

Pseudocreobotra Wahlbergii
Found in my garden beginning August 2006.Have watched it from small till now.It has not moved for more than a Month from the same Rose plant. Thanks
Andre Smuts
Durban International Airport

Hi Andre,
Thank you for submitting your photo of the beautiful Spiny Flower Mantis from South Africa.

Letter 4 – Spiny Flower Mantis from Tanzania

Subject: More from Arusha
Location: Usa River, Arusha, Tanzania
January 25, 2016 11:39 am
Hello again oh wonderful bug folks
Here’s another pic from USA River, Arusha, Tanzania. Great markings on this amazing beastie. No odd-shaped thumb in the pic this time sadly but it was about the length of an adult thumb. Seen mid December in our garden one morning.
Signature: The Wood Family

Spiny Flower Mantis
Spiny Flower Mantis

Dear Wood Family,
Back in 2005 we posted an image of a Preying Mantis that was identified as being in the genus
PseudocreobotraBy 2007, we learned it has the common name Spiny Flower MantisMantid Forum refers to the species as the Spiny Flower Mantis and we found the name Target Mantis in conjunction with the web search that led us to The Tree of Life.


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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Elspeth Humphreys
    November 27, 2013 8:35 am

    I live in Magoebaskloof, near Tzaneen and saw it here. A fantastic creature.
    I have a lovely photo of it on my phone!

  • Elspeth Humphreys
    November 27, 2013 8:35 am

    I live in Magoebaskloof, near Tzaneen and saw it here. A fantastic creature.
    I have a lovely photo of it on my phone!

  • Thanks! Love your site, so useful. You guys do a great job. Lots more bug pics coming your way ?

  • I posted a picture of the Spiny Mantis back in 2014 where I found it in our garden and watched it grow from small .this year 2017 we found six of them in the garden as well as a ghost mantis


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