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Heterochaeta orientalis

African giant stick mantis

General Information

Scientific name: Heterochaeta orientalis
Common name: African giant stick mantis
Distribution: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania
Habitat: Branches and shrubs
Size: Female up to 15 cm
Male little less
Livespan: Female up to 2 years
Male up to 1.5 years
Colour variations: None
Aggressivity: Low*
Difficulty: Middle (needs a lot of space)

*Group-keeping in all stages possible (However, cannibalism always possible! Especially adult females always feed well.

Systematics

Order: Mantodea
Family: Mantidae
Genus: Heterochaeta

More species of this genus (similar housing and appearance):

  • Heterochaeta occidentalis

Keeping

Enclosure (LxWxH):

  • Single-housing: from 30 x 30 x 40 cm
  • Group-housing: from 40 x 40 x 50 cm for 2 paires
  • Small nymphs can be reared in smaller enclosures (for moulting they need twice their body length free space downwards)

Two ventilation areas (gaze at top + front) adviced to prevent waterglogging.

Temperature:
Day 25 – 30 °C, night room temperature (below 18°C no problem)

Relative humidity:
Days ~ 40 – 60 %, nights higher

Set-up:

  • Substrate: Soil, sand, kitchen paper, gravel, coco humus etc. (animals seldom stay on the ground)
  • Branches (also horizontal/bent)
  • Living or artificial plants (Beware of pesticides!)
  • Clean with vinegar or biodegradable glass cleaner (afterwards rinse with clear water)

Feeding Recommendation

L1 Small fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster)
L2-L4 Big fruit flies (Drosophila hydei)
L4-L6 Greenbottle flies
L7 to adult Bluebottle flies

Feeder insects in the shop…

Gender Determination

In general: 8 visible sternites (ventral segments) at males, 6 at females (compare with Hierodula membranacea).

Biology

Adult stage (= full-grown + winged):
Females in L10, males in L9
Amount of moults variates (especially under abnormal temperatures or injuries)

Sexually mature after adult moult:
Males ~ 3 weeks
Females ~ 4 weeks

Copulation duration:

Oothecae (egg-cases)
Size: up to 4 cm
Form: flat/roundish with long string at the end
Colour: grey
Oviposition place: thick branches or bark
First ooth after adult moult: ~ 4 weeks
Interval: ~14 days
Amount: up to 8 oothecae

Incubation and hatch
Duration: ~ 4 – 6 weeks
Temperatures like animals (see above), rel. humidity over 50% (with good ventilation)
Nymph quantity: up to 50
Size freshly hatched (L1): ~ 10 mm

All given information only for orientation. Actual facts always depend on temperature and food availibility etc.!

More

The African giant stick mantis is one of the very large species. Despite her impressive size, in comparison, they only capture relatively small food animals (preferably flying insects). So they are good for group keeping. It rarely comes to cannibalism. With dryness this species copes well, but every two to three days spray the animals and their environment so that they can drink enough water. Especially small nymphal stages (up to L3) are still stuck in their skin, if too rarely sprayed / too low air humidity prevails.

Sources

  • Own expercience

Often available in the shop.

Pictures

Heterochaeta orientalis female adult
Heterochaeta orientalis subadult
Heterochaeta orientalis oothecae