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Sphodromantis gastrica

African mantis

Sphodromantis gastrica female blue display

General Information

Scientific name: Sphodromantis gastrica
Common name: African mantis / Common green mantis
Distribution: Africa
Habitat: Trees and bushes
Size: Females ~ 8 cm
Males ~ 6 cm
Livespan: Females ~ 1,5 years
Males ~ 1 year
Colour variations: Yellow/brown/green
Aggressivity: High*
Difficulty: Easy

*up to L3 group-housing possible

Systematics

Order: Mantodea
Family: Mantidae
Subfamily: Mantinae
Tribe: Paramantini
Genus: Sphodromantis

First description (year):

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

  • Sphodromantis balachowskyi (LA GRECA, 1967)
  • Sphodromantis centralis (REHN, 1914)
  • Sphodromantis lineola (BURMEISTER, 1838)
  • Sphodormantis gracilis (LOMBARDO, 1991)
  • Sphodormantis viridis (FORSKÅL, 1775)

Keeping

Species is suitable for free-range keeping

Enclosure (LxWxH):

  • Single-housing: from 20 x 20 x 30 cm
  • 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 20 – 30 °C, night room temperature (below 18°C no problem)

Relative humidity:
~ 50 %, spray every third day

Set-up:

  • Substrate: Soil, sand, kitchen paper, gravel, coco humus etc. (animals seldom stay on the ground)
  • Branches (also horizontal/bent) with ~ 2,5 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.

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 and males in L10
Amount of moults variates (especially under abnormal temperatures or injuries)

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

Copulation duration:
~ 6 – 18 hours

Oothecae (egg-cases)
Size: up to 4 cm
Form: half-round
Colour: dark-/brown
Oviposition place: Flat surfaces and thick branches or bark
First ooth after adult moult: ~ 4 weeks
Interval: ~ 2 – 4 weeks
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 250
Size freshly hatched (L1): ~ 6 mm

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

More

Sphodromantis is a genug of the normal praying mantis type and belongs to the typical beginners species. Although they are a bit more active as Hierodula membranacea, they can also be kept free in the room on a plant. They feed on anything which fits in their arms and are very robust.

Colours of the nymphs variate from brown over yellow to green, depending also on enclosure humidity and surrounding colours. However, colour variations may also be genetically determined. Colours might change with every moult. Colours in presub and subadult stages usually stay until adulthood.

Sources

  • Own expercience

Often available in the shop.

Pictures

Sphodromantis cf. gastrica L2
Sphodromantis gastrica ootheca
Sphodormantis cf. gastrica nymphs
Sphodromantis cf. gastrica nymph (male)
Sphodromantis gastrica adult females
Sphodromantis cf. gastrica females colours green brown
Sphodromantis gastrica female adult display blue
Sphodromantis gastrica female blue display
Sphodromantis gastrica females colours blue brown
Sphodromantis gastrica female blue
Sphodromantis gastrica Weibchen