Sphodromantis lineola (African Mantis)
This mantid is by far one of most fun mantids I have kept. They aren't the biggest or coolest looking, but they are great to watch. They have no problem going after their prey and chasing it down. Colors range from light brown or cream color to green. The 3 species this caresheet refers to are lineola, centralia, and viridis. They are all very much similar and require the same care. I will post the differences of the 3 species as I gather more information about them.
They are a very small species. Females grow up to 6.5 cm long while males get about 6 cm. After the 3rd or 4th molt, 8 segments can be counted on the male's abdomen while 6 on the females. Males are also, of course, more slender than the females.
This species can tolerate many different temperatures and humidities, which makes it a great beginner mantis. It's best to keep it around 21-30 C (70-86 F). A heat mat or a heat lamp may be used to maintain the desired temperature. Humidity should be kept around 60%.
Their cage should be well ventilated with lots of twigs for the mantids to perch on. The suggested size is usually at least 3x the length of the mantis. This is a good mantid for those of you who like to make elaborate setups for your pets. You don't have to worry too much about this mantid having trouble finding food. They have NO problem going after it.
These mantids will eat just about anything. Crickets, roaches, houseflies, moths, and mealworms would all work well as feeders. The more variety, the better.
A mantis will stop eating a day or two (sometimes longer) prior to its molt. Mantids molt about every 1-2 weeks as babies and the time in between each molt increases as they get older. It takes about 7 molts for females and about 6 for males. During molting, it is vital that you do not disturb them and also make sure that the humidity is at a safe level. 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. It will resume eating and being its normal self after a day or two.
After 2 weeks following their last molt, introduce the female into the male's enclosure near him. Always make sure both mantids are well fed before doing this. A mature male will initiate breeding by jumping on the female's back and will copulate shortly afterward. The actual copulation could take hours and then the male will detach himself from her and run for dear life, and for good reason too. This species is pretty aggressive and if the male is left in there alone, and the female is hungry, she will not think twice about hunting him down. Keep in mind, the older the female, the more receptive she will likely be to mating. Older males also generally initiate mating much quicker than younger males.
After 3-4 weeks as an adult, the female may start to lay her first ootheca (mated or not). Keep the ootheca at the same temperature and humidity as you kept the adults, and 4-6 weeks later about 100-150 nymphs will hatch out. Then proceed to feed them fruit flies and care for them as this caresheet suggests.
As I said before, this is an aggressive mantid and very fun to own. I enjoy dropping food into their containers and seeing them grab it often times before it even hits the ground!