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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Beginners

  • Which species should I take?
    Robust large genera are for example: Hierodula and Sphodromantis. Medium sized genera also suitable for beginners are: Creobroter, Parasphendale and Phyllocrania.
  • Can I really keep a mantis free on a plant?
    The best species for keeping free is Hierodula membranacea (Indian giant mantis), but other Hierodula and Sphodromantis species are also suitable. Since males in the adult stage become restless, choose only females (from L5)! More here.
  • Which stage (L1 – adult) should I choose?
    Suitable are L4 (1 – 2 cm), L5, L6, L7, pre-subadult, subadult and adult (fully grown). Small stages (L1 – L3) are more sensitive to wrong conditions.
  • Which food fits which species & size?
    See “feeding recommendation” at each species in the shop.
  • Male or female?
    Mostly females are chosen, as they have a longer livespan.
  • Single or group keeping?
    In general, single keeping is recommended because of cannibalism. Only with a few species, e.g. Phyllocrania paradoxa, group housing is possible.
  • What are the housing conditions (enclosure, temperature, humidity)?
    Everything about mantis care here (with sub pages basics, breeding, species-lexicon etc.)
  • How old is / is my praying mantis?
    In total (from the time of hatching), mantids often live for about a year (for example flower mantids and ghost mantids). Large species (e.g. Hierodula membranacea) may become up to 2 years old at room temperature. Males usually have a shorter lifespan than females.
    Depending on the temperature and species, there are usually between 10 and 14 days between moultings. The last moulting usually takes a bit longer. Thus, the animals (with 7 to 10 moults to the adult stage) need about 5 – 6 months to be fully grown.

Shipment

  • How are living animals sent?
    Safely packed via insured DHL or UPS package with tracking number. Exception: Letter delivery of Blue- and Greenbottle fly pupae within Germany.
  • Is it too hot / cold for animal shipping?
    Living animals are sent well protected at extreme temperatures. More here.
  • How much are the shipping costs?
    Check costs here.
  • When will my order be shipped?
    Germany-wide: Mondays to Fridays after receipt of money. International packages check here.
  • How can I pay?
    Check payment options here
  • How long are the animals in the package?
    Regular transit time within Germany: 1-2 days. Regular transit time for international deliveries: 1-3 days.
  • What happens if my order (e.g. living animals) does not arrive in good condition?
    Of course, in this case, there is free replacement or money back. More here.
  • Can I specify a desired delivery date?
    A guaranteed delivery for a certain date is unfortunately not possible. However, you can specify a desired shipping date in the ordering process. Over 90% of the parcels arrive within Germany on the following day.
  • What happens if I’m not home at the time of delivery?
    Especially for international shipments: Please make sure to be at home at time of delivery (follow the tracking). However, a second delivery attempt on the next day is usually no problem for living animals. You also have several options for avoiding longer runtimes (see here).
  • Can I pick up my order myself?
    Yes, pickup on the spot (Mühlheim – Germany) or handover on a fair/show is possible, see here.

Nutrition

  • How does my praying mantis drink?
    In nature, praying mantises get their moisture needs both through their food and through drinking water droplets that arise in rain or dew. So you should spray (depending on the species between once a day and once a week) the animals and their environment with a plant sprayer carefully. If the praying mantis immediately begins to greedily pick up the drops from the tentacles or the immediate vicinity, you should spray a little more often. If the praying mantis seems to be less thirsty, spray less often. Since all species react very sensible to too high humidity, better to spray too little than too much!
    A water bowl will not be accepted!
  • How often should I feed my praying mantis?
    Roughly speaking: At least one fly a day or a grasshopper per week. But that’s just a rough advice!
    It always depends on how big the feeder animals are in relation to the praying mantis, how much it eats at once and how nutritious the feeder animal is. If a praying mantis is full she usually does not eat anymore. Overfeeding is rare. However, in very voracious species (e.g., Rhombodera sp.) one should be careful. If the abdomen is very thick and begins to bend because of the weight, the animal has clearly eaten too much.
    When keeping a group, I recommend always having a moderate amount of food in the terrarium. If you kepp them single or free, you can offer several animals at once and then wait a few days.
    Ultimately, the thickness of the abdomen is crucial. It should always have a clear rounding.
  • Why is my praying mantis not eating?
    If the animal looks fine and does not eat anything, it may be that it wants to moult. Then just wait a day or two and do not bother until it has successfully worked its way out of the old skin! However, if the refusal to eat persists for more than two days, there is usually something wrong. For test purposes, place the animal in a smaller container and add some feeder insects. If the animal still does not eat it is probably sick (see diseases). In this case, keep it warm and dry and spray the animal’s tentacles directly just to absorb water.
  • Why is my praying mantis not catching food from the tweezers?
    Often, the praying mantis recognizes the big hand at the end of the tweezers and gets scared. A trick is to offer a wriggling little feeder insect from behind a leaf or branch, leaving the tweezers hidden.

Keeping

  • How do I get the needed heat in my terrarium?
    With halogen lamps or heating mats a terrarium can be heated. The required wattage depends on many factors (outside temperature, material of the container, ventilation surfaces, etc.)
  • Which plants should I use?
    The enclosure can theoretically be set up with any kind of plant. For an increase in humidity plants are well suited. Especially bromeliads can keep water in their leaf axils. But any other plant is suitable. Since plants from the normal retailer are often contaminated with pesticides, it is recommended that a freshly purchased plant is rinsed under clear water immediately after receipt. Since the plants are not eaten by the praying mantises, in theory, poisonous plants can be used. However, feeder insects can eat the plants, which are eaten by the praying mantises again. Therefore, one should take care not to use strong toxic plants.
  • What kind of gauze needs to be used?
    Usually, a metal gauze is already installed in the enclosures to provide adequate ventilation. At this, and also on any branches or other rough material, praying mantises can easily hold on and moult. Thus, an additional lining with gauze is rarely needed. Caution only with praying mantises of the Empusid family (Idolomantis diabolica, Gongylus gongylodes etc.). Since they have no adhesive lamellae on their tarsae (claws), they are unable to hold on smooth surfaces. And if they break their claws on metal gauze, they can barely hold on. Thus, for these species another type of gauze should be used (plastic or natural fabrics).
  • Which substrate is suitable?
    Since the typical praying mantis tends to stay in the upper part of an enclosure, the type of ground is not of particular importance. It can be selected earth, stones, sand, moss or other material, so that when spraying no accumulation of water can occur on the floor.
  • How big should the ventilation areas be?
    The size of the ventilation surfaces does not tell much about how well the enclosure is actually ventilated. The air circulation depends in particular on the difference in temperature in the enclosure compared to the air temperature outside the enclosure (in the room). The larger the temperature gradient, the stronger the air exchange.
    Example:
    If you open your living room window in the winter, the cold outside air flows in very quickly. There is a fast air exchange. If you open the same window (the same ventilation area) in summer, when the indoor and outdoor temperatures are almost the same, only a very slow exchange of air takes place.
    The following applies to the enclosure:
    If the enclosure is in a room that is very warm anyway, a larger ventilation area should always be chosen. But if the terrarium is in a “normal” room and is heated with a lamp, normal double ventilation is sufficient.
  • May I use artificial flowers?
    Artificial flowers should always be washed off with hot water before using them as there is a risk of toxins being present. Theoretically, however, the type of facility in the enclosure does not matter. The praying mantis should be able to hold on well .. no matter if dry branches, living plants, bark or artificial flowers are used. To increase the humidity, naturally, living plants are best suited.
  • How do I prevent mold growth in high humidity?
    When it comes to mold, it is a sign for bad ventilation and/or too high humidity which is usually very bad for mantises. The enclosure must always have at least two ventilation surfaces and after spraying, surfaces of the enclosure should completely dry within one day. If this is not the case you should spray less or increase the air exchange (more ventilation area or higher thermal gradient). Even species that require a high relative humidity according to the literature, dry periods are much better than too high humidity.
  • How often should I spray?
    The frequency of spraying always depends on temperature, ventilation, type of spraying, etc. Since all mantid species do not tolerate too high humidy well, the walls of the enclosure should be completely dry the day after spraying. In case of doubt too little is better than too much. As long as they can absorb enough water every few days (by drinking drops on your tentacles or from the subsoil in the immediate vicinity) a dry environment is not dangerous in general.
  • What kind of light does my praying mantis need?
    The nature of the light does not seem to be important for the development of the mantids (UV light is not necessary and halogen spotlights, neon tubes, etc. are suitable). Of course, it must be bright during the day so prey can be caught. A 12-hour illumination per day is usually the natural habitat of a mantid.
  • How big should the terrarium be (in group housing)?
    The recommended minimum size for a single adult is BxTxH: 20 x 20 x 30 cm for medium sized species. Specific information is available here. For group keeping (attention, only certain types are suitable!) you should add the body length of the width of the terrarium for each additional animal.

Breeding

  • How do I incubate oothecae?
    Oothecae should be kept similar to adult animals. So temperature and humidity should be according to the keeping conditions of the animals. The oothecae may be sprayed directly. Mold must be avoided by good ventilation. When hatching the nymphs get out on a thread, therefore, the ootheca should always be attached (glued / needled) upside down with space underneath (depending on the species between 5 and 15 cm).
  • There are only so few animals or no hatched at all .. Why is that?
    How many and whether nymphs hatch from a fertilized ootheca is always a kind of gambling with praying mantises. Slight or no hacthing at all can be an inbreeding phenomenon, the female did not fertilize the eggs properly, the ootheca was too dry / hot / cold, or started to mold with too little air supply. In order to achieve a high hatching rate, oothecae should be kept in the same way (conditions) as it is written as a description of the species. The female should always have a large supply of food available. Multiple fertilization increases the chances of hatching.
    Occasionally only a few nymphs hatch on the first day and the rest follows one or two days later. At the latest 10 days after the first hatched nymph, however, in my experience no further hatching occurs.
  • How can I see if an ootheca is fertilized?
    This is not recognizable from the outside. Signs, but no certainty, are the stopping of the pheromone-spraying of the female and the frequent oothecae-building in a row. Unfertilised females try to hold the eggs as long as possible.
  • Males and females have different levels of development. What can I do?
    If males and females are far apart from one another, the development of an animal can be accelerated by a greater supply of food and a higher temperature.
  • Is inbreeding a problem?
    Inbreeding problems are less common in insects. In order to obtain a species inbreeding, one should nevertheless always breed with several animals of different oothecae (better still: parent animals). Typical inbreeding effects are: dwarfism, bad hatching rates and unstable animals.

Diverse

  • Why is my praying mantis hanging upside down?
    Overhead is normal, even a good sign! That’s one of her preferred positions. It is perfect for waiting for prey and of course also for skinning.
  • What do these “L” (stages of development) mean?
    Please note: In L1 to L3, the animals are still very sensitive and it is recommended to raise a group of several animals together, as losses must be expected!
    At M&M Wüst, the stages of development of the praying mantis are presented according to the following method of counting:
    Mantis are fully grown after 7 to 10 moults. The first moult immediately after hatching is counted as the first moult. The “L” indicates the number of moults that a praying mantis already has behind her. Thus, from its first day of life (where it moults from the pre-larva to the first nymph stage immediately after hatching), the larva is referred to as “L1”. As soon as it moults a second time (after about 10 to 14 days), it is called “L2”. Males usually need one stage less than the females until they are fully grown. Thus, for example, of middle-sized species, the males are adult in L8, the females in L9. Larger species are often adult in L10. One stage before the adult stage, the stage is called “subadult”.