Tenodera sinensis (Chinese Mantis)

Appearance:

It has the classic mantis appearance. The adults color ranges from bright green to brown. They have long usable wings as adults and grow to be about 4-5 inches with the females being larger.

Sexing:

Adult females are larger and more built than adult males. Males have longer antennas and wings. And after the 3rd molt, you may be able to count the bottom abdomen segments to determine their sex males will have 8 and females will have 6.

Accommodation:

This species of mantis will survive in fair conditions. It's best to keep it around 20-26 C (68-78.8 F). Room temperature will work best. 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. Humidity should be around 60-65%. This could be achieved by spraying or watering the substrate 3 times a week. The main purpose of humidity is to help the mantis molt too much humidity will cripple the mantis during molts, and too little will hinder it from emerging from the old skin just make sure it doesn't get too dry or too damp.

Caging:

This species is quite large. The suggested height is usually 3x the mantis length and 2x for width. They require sticks and leaves for perching and to hang from for molting and catching insects. They are very active and may need some space to roam around or to pursue their prey so adjust caging according to their size.

Feeding:

This species eats very well. They are not picky. Crickets and mealworms are the best food for them, but you can feed them anything else that will fit in its claws. It's recommended that the size of the feeder insect does not exceed 1/3 the mantis length. Even though they are voracious and will attack anything, do not offer them poisonous insects or wasps or bees as these could seriously harm the mantis. To feed them, you can either drop the food inside the tank and if the mantis is hungry, it'll go after the prey or you can feed them by hand: use a pair of tweezers to hold the cricket and wave it in front of the mantis, if it's hungry, it will turn its head to stare directly at the insect and will snatch it from the tweezers or you may need to pierce the insect and put it to the mantis mouth and if it likes the taste, it'll grab on to it and begin to feed. Do not overfeed them, overfeeding will shorten their life span also. Feed them as much as it will eat in one day and do not feed it for another 2 days. As for watering, mantids get their water from their prey, but lightly mist the enclosure every couple of days, and occasionally, a mantis will drink off of droplets from a branch or a side of the tank. This also helps keep humidity levels safe.

Molting:

A mantis will stop eating a day or 2 (sometimes more) prior to its molt. Do not be alarmed if one day your mantis is chowing down on a cricket and the next it refuses its food, it's simply getting ready to shed its skin. Mantids molt every 2-3 weeks as babies 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 about 7 molts for females and about 6 for males. That's why males tend to mature earlier than females and they also die faster. During molts, it is vital that you do not disturb them. 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. Once it's dried, it will resume eating and being its normal self after a couple days. To ensure their safety, mist them every day while young nymphs to prevent any blockade during molting.

Reproduction:

This species is very easy to breed. Pair up a male and a female 2 weeks after their last molt and if they are ready, the male will try to climb on the female to initiate breeding. Be sure that both sexes are well fed prior to mating. And before mating, it is advised to give the female a food item to busy herself with while the male tries to mate with her. Afterwards, he will run away, leaving the female to make the eggs. Feed her as much as she will eat during this time and she will lay about 6-12 oothecae (plural for ootheca).

Ootheca:

About 150-300 babies will hatch out of each ootheca with 4-6 weeks of steady temperature from 21-30 C (75-85 F) and 70% humidity. Feed the babies fruit flies on the second day and they can be kept together until their 2nd molt. Then separate them to prevent cannibalism.

Additional Notes:

This species is very prone to cannibalism. I keep mine together until about L3, but they must be WELL fed and constantly have food. But, even with constant food, I noticed nymphs feeding on each other. If you only have a few, do not keep them together for any amount of time.

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