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Popa spurca

Twig mantis

Popa spurca female adult

General Information

Scientific name: Popa spurca
Common name: Twig mantis
Distribution: Äthopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Somalia, Tansania, Uganda
Habitat: Bushes and trees in dry areas
Size: Female ~ 8 cm
Male ~ 7 cm
Livespan: Female up to 1,5 year
Male up to 1 year
Colour variations: Almost black, grey or dark brown
Aggressivity: Middle*
Difficulty: Easy

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


Order: Mantodea
Family: Mantidae
Subfamily: Vatinae
Tribe: Danuriini
Genus: Popa

First description (year): STÅL (1856)

Sub-species (similar housing and appearance):

  • Popa spurca spurca STÅL (1856)
  • Popa spurca crassa GIGLIO-TOS (1917)



Enclosure (LxWxH):

  • Single-housing: from 15 x 15 x 20 cm
  • Group-housing: from 20 x 20 x 30 cm for ~ 10 L5 nymphs
  • 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 25 - 30 °C, nights room temperature (below 18°C no problem)

Relative humidity:
Days ~ 50 - 60 %, spray every second day


  • Substrate: Soil, sand, kitchen paper, gravel, coco humus etc. (animals sometimes stay on the ground)
  • Branches (also horizontal/bent) with ~ 0,5 - 1 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-L4 Big fruit flies (Drosophila hydei)
L5/L6 Greenbottle flies
L6 to adult Green- and Bluebottle flies

This species also feeds on crawling insects like crickets/roaches etc.

Feeder insects in the shop...

Gender Determination

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


  • from L5: Males have 3 - 4 small and hardly recognisable appendages at their back (abdomen). Appendages of females with much bigger and easily seen appendages.
  • adult: Wings of males  reache over abdominal end. Wings of females short (only half the lenght of their abdomen).


Adult stage (= full-grown + winged):
Females in L9, males in L8
Amount of moults variates (especially under abnormal temperatures or injuries)

Sexually mature after adult moult:
Males ~ 10 days
Females ~  2 weeks

Copulation duration:
~ 6 hours

Oothecae (egg-cases)
Size: ~ 2 cm
Form: flat
Colour: grey
Oviposition place: Branches or bark
First ooth after adult moult: ~ 3 weeks
Interval: ~ 2 weeks
Amount: up to 5 oothecae

Incubation and hatch
Duration: ~ 4 - 5 weeks
Temperatures like animals (see above), rel. humidity over 50% (with good ventilation)
Nymph quantity: ~100
Size freshly hatched (L1): ~ 8 mm
Appearance of nymphs: very similat to adults already (but with white nack ring and leg endings)

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


When resting or feeling disturbed Popa spurca (the small Twig mantis) often hold their fang arms elongated in front of them and press their body to the ground/branches. So they rely completely on their camouflage (as twig) and hardly do not even move when touched. This behaviour makes them seem like stubborn.

Another special aspect of this species are the reduced wings of adult females (looks like saddles on their backs).


  • Popa spurca crassa is distributet along the east coast of Africa
  • Popa spurca spurca is distributet widespread throughout all Africa south of the Sahara, except in the east


  • Own expercience
  • www.mantisonline.de (August 2017)
  • www.swissmantis.ch (November 2007) Website not available anymore

Often available in the shop.