Deroplatys lobata (Dead Leaf Mantis)
This cryptic mantis lives to mimic dead leaves hence the name. I consider them to be one of the most beautiful mantids out there. Their coloring ranges from dark gray to light mottled gray. They also possess a broad prothorax that looks ripped and crumpled like a leaf. Their shield looks different from D. desiccata, but still serves the same purpose. When threatened, they will unfurl their wings to display their bright colorings. But nymphs will freeze and throw themselves to the ground with all legs folded to look like a dead leaf.
They are slightly smaller than the Deroplatys desiccata. Males grow up to 5 cm long and females grow up to 9 cm long. Males are very skinny in comparison to the females and they are very capable of flight so take care not to lose them. After the 2nd molt, 8 segments can be counted on the males abdomen while 6 on the females. And the females prothorax shield is more cryptic and wavy whereas the males' are diamond-shaped.
It's best to keep these at around 24-30 C (75-86 F). A heat mat or heat lamp is may be used to maintain the desired temperature. Keep the temperature cooler at night to lengthen the lifespan of the mantis. Warmer temperature speeds up the metabolism of the mantis and will shorten its life span and in contrast, cooler temperature slows its metabolism and lengthens the life span, but both extremes could kill it. Keep humidity at a constant 70-80%.
Their cage should be well ventilated with lots of twigs and leaves for the mantis to perch on. They don't require much room as they are not active predators, but they do need room to molt. The suggested width and height is usually 3x the length of the mantis. This species is not as vicious as other species and even adults are able to live communally (both tiny males and females), but nevertheless, if you have a small number of nymphs, they should be separated into separate containers after the first molt to remove all chances of cannibalism.
This species has no specific needs, but can be picky, so a varied diet is best. Start out with fruit flies for nymphs and move to pinhead crickets for larger nymphs and crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and other larger insects for sub-adult and adults...although adults can be a bit more picky than nymphs. They especially love flying insects like moths. It's recommended that the size of the feeder insect does not exceed 1/3 the mantis length. Do not overfeed them, overfeeding will speed up their metabolism and can and will shorten their life span. Feed them as much as it will eat in one day and do not feed it for another 2 days. As for watering, this type will get its fluid from its food, but it can sometimes be seen drinking off droplets from the side of the cage so misting the cage every once in a while is best.
A mantis will stop eating a day or 2 (sometimes more) prior to its molt. Mantises molt every 2 weeks as nymphs 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 8 molts for females and 6 for males. That's why males tend to mature earlier than females and so would die faster. During molting, it is vital that you do not disturb them and also make sure that the humidity is at a safe level too much humidity can hinder the insect from drying out correctly and it might end up with bent legs and crippled arms. 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. After a couple days and once it's dried, it will resume eating and being its normal self. Although they have a big shielded prothorax, molting shouldn't be hindered so don't be alarmed if you see something weird...and especially do not try to aid them while they're molting.
Select a suitable pair after 2 weeks since their last molt. It would be best to mate the mantids after 3-4 weeks instead. 2 weeks may be too soon and the female may not be mature enough to be bred. Introduce the female into the males enclosure and leave them alone. This could take hours or days for the male to make his move...although a mature male should mount the female within a couple hours after introduction. Or you could feed the female and during her feeding, put a male behind her and if he is ready, he will jump on her back...but this method could be a bit difficult due to the timid nature of the males. After a while of holding on, the male will bend his abdomen down to connect with hers and mating will commence. The male may remain on the female for up to 2 days (even after copulation). Afterwards, he will run away and he must be removed or else he might eaten.
About 3-4 weeks after mating, the female will make her first ootheca. This species can lay around 4-6 oothecae with a period of 4-6 weeks in between each ootheca. After 6 weeks of incubation at 30 C (86 F) and 70-80% humidity, as many as 100 large nymphs will hatch out from each ootheca. These can be fed fruit flies a day or two after hatching. Then continue to care for them as this care sheet suggests.
Additional Notes: (Log by Evan)
I recieved a grapesized ootheca and after 1 week or so of incubation at high humidity, about 100 nymphs hatched out! The nymphs were surprisingly large for the ootheca that they came out of. After a day or drying out, they started to eat large fruit flies. I think I'll start to feed them house flies after their next molt, which should come after a week or so after hatching.
The nymphs have been a success. They've grown quite large since hatching and they are now subadults. The males have obviously grown faster than females so I must slow down their growth now. They are still living together and only one case of cannibalism have been observed, the rest are content to hang upsidedown with their cage mates. I will try to see if this is a communal species, if not, at least tolerant of each other.
It's confirmed, this is a communal species. I've kept all the nymphs together up until L5 and everything went well. Then I separated the males from the females and raised them separately. They are now subadults and one of the males is already a full adult. The females are not far behind!
After the females have matured, I introduced the males into the females' tank. Surprisingly, they are quite docile towards each other. The first mounting took place approximately 1 day after introduction. Even after copulation, the male is still attached to the female for another 2 days.