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Phyllocrania paradoxa

Ghost mantis

Phyllocrania paradoxa Weibchen

General Information

Scientific name: Phyllocrania paradoxa
Common name: Ghost mantis
Distribution: Africa and Madagascar
Habitat: Widely distributed over dry and humid regions
Size: Female ~ 6 cm
Male ~ 5,5 cm
Livespan: Female up to 1,5 years
Male up to 1 year
Colour variations: Brown or green (of each light and dark variants)
Aggressivity: Low*
Difficulty: Easy (typical beginners species)

*group-housing in all stages possible
No guarantee against cannibalism! Always feed very well – especially adult females.


Order: Mantodea
Family: Hymenopodidae
Subfamily: Epaphroditinae
Tribe: Phyllocranini
Genus: Phyllocrania

First description (year): : BURMEISTER (1838)


Enclosure (LxWxH):

  • Single-housing: from 15 x 15 x 15 cm
  • Group-housing: from 30 x 30 x 30 cm for 4 - 5 adults
  • 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.

Days 22 - 30 °C, nights room temperature (below 18°C no problem)

Relative humidity:
~ 30 - 50 %, sometimes 60 % with good ventilation


  • Substrate: Soil, sand, kitchen paper, gravel, coco humus etc. (animals seldom stay on the ground)
  • Branches (also horizontal/bent) with ~ 0,5 cm diameter.
  • 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/L3 Big fruit flies (Drosophila hydei)
L4/L5 Greenbottle flies
L6 to adult Green- and Bluebottle flies

This species also feeds on crawling insects like crickets/roaches etc. However, it prefers flying insects.

Feeder insects in the shop...

Gender Determination

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


  • from L3/L4 males have a longer and "double bent crown" whereas females have only one bend in the relatively wide crown.


Adult stage (= full-grown + winged):
Females in L8, males in L7
Amount of moults variates (especially under abnormal temperatures or injuries)

Sexually mature after adult moult:
Males ~ 2 weeks
Females ~  3 weeks

Copulation duration:
~ 3 - 4 hours

Oothecae (egg-cases)
Size: up to 5 cm
Form: flat with little string at the end
Colour: dark brown
Oviposition place: thin branches favoured
First ooth after adult moult: ~ 4 - 5 weeks
Interval: ~ 7 - 14 days
Amount: up to 15 oothecae

Incubation and hatch
Duration: ~ 4 - 6 weeks
Temperatures like animals (see above), rel. humidity over 50% (with good ventilation)
Nymph quantity: up to 80
Size freshly hatched (L1): ~ 5 mm

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


This species, well suited to the beginner, mimics dry foliage with its bizarre form. Especially in group housing, the animals can make a beautiful appearance with different colour variations.


  • Own expercience

Often available in the shop.