Animals / Arthropods

Chinese mantis


Order — Mantodea. Family — Mantidae. Subfamily — Mantinae. Tribe — Polyspilotini. Genus — Tenodera. Species — Tenodera sinensis.


The Chinese Mantis is a very common mantis species. Originally it only occurred in Asia, but because of international commerce it has been introduced in North America. There this species is thriving and can be found in almost the whole continent.

Outward appearance

Length: 9-16 cm. Adult Chinese mantis is brown in color with brown wings with a green edge. The body shape is like a “stereotype” mantis without any special decorative or camoeflaging appendages. A nymph (young mantis) of the Chinese mantis is brown and does not have any wings or special appendages. The adult female is larger and heavier than the male, but both sexes look pretty much the same throughout there life. You can distinquish males and females by the length of the antennae (males have longer) and by counting the segments on their abdomen.


Of course you have to feed your mantis. But unlike other pets such as cats and dogs, praying mantids do not need to eat every day. Feeding them every day can be bad for some mantis species! You have to feed your mantis every one to four days, depending on the species, the type of food you give it, the size of the mantis, the body condition of the mantis (well-fed or skinny) and its life-stage (adult females need more food than adult males). Mantises only eat live insects for food. This can be flies, crickets, moths, caterpillars, locusts and some other insects. When feeding your mantis, make sure the mantis will actually eat the food you offer it. When you introduce live food to the enclosure of the mantis, this food can hide or escape. When this happens often the mantis will starve. To make sure your mantis will eat what you offer it, you can watch until he has caught the food. You can also offer the food with tweezers directly to the mantis. If you do this carefully the mantis will grab the live food item directly from the tweezers and will start eating instantly. Prey that moves a lot, like flies, will generally be caught much more easily then prey that hides, like cockroaches or caterpillars.

Maintenance care

To house your pet praying mantis, you need an enclosure filled with appropriate substrate and some surfaces or branches for climbing and hanging.
Make sure the enclosure of your pet is suitable. This means that the cage, box or terrarium is at least 3x longer than the body length praying mantis and 2x wider than the body length of the praying mantis. This will ensure that the mantis has plenty of space to walk around in and to use when it will shed its skin (molt). The cage should also have proper ventilation.
Place substrate on the bottom of the tank, terrarium or cage. This substrate can be anything that will absorb water and that will not mold easily. For example: tissue paper, vermiculite, potting earth, shredded wood, pieces of bark or sand. The purpose of the substrate is to release water slowly, thus keeping the humidity in the tank a bit more constant.
Fill the enclosure with branches or other objects where the mantis can sit on or hang from. You could use branches, twigs, reeds, stiff dry grass, fake plastic flowers or plastic decorative branches. Make sure the objects are safe for the mantis, e.g. without glue or insecticides, and that there is plenty of space left for the mantis to move around. The Chinese Mantis is a very easy mantis to take care of, because it does not require a lot of special temperatures or humidity. The ideal temperature is about 25 °C, but a temperature between 22 and 30 ° C is perfect too. At night the temperature can be allow to drop, but it should be at least 17 ° C to ensure proper development. When exposed to temperatures below 8 °C a Chinese mantis may not survive.
The Chinese Mantis does not need a lot of humidity. Keep the mantis in a well ventilated enclosure and spray with water two times a week. The mantis will drink from the water droplets when it is thirsty. Chinese mantids are ferocious predators that will also prey on each other. Do not keep Chinese mantids together in the same cage. Very young nymphs can be kept together, but even in young ones cannibalism can occur. Make sure they have enough to eat.


You can breed Chinese mantises in captivity. Some companies breed this mantis species to sell them as natural predators in greenhouses. The companies sell the egg sacs (ootheca) to greenhouse farmers. When the young mantises hatch in the greenhouse they will eat all pest insects like aphids and small flies. If you want to breed Tenodera sinensis yourself, you need a male and a female that are full grown for at least 2 weeks. Then you need to place the male and female together in one enclosure. Make sure the female has eaten A LOT before you do this. Even then it is possible that the female will eat the male before, during or after mating. If mating has occured you should separate both mantises again. After one mating the female mantis will produce fertilized eggs for the rest of her life. She will produce foam-like egg sacs called ootheca. In one egg sac of a Chinese mantis you can find between 30 and 100 eggs. She will produce 3 to 7 egg sacs in her life if she has enough food.
Keep the egg sac in the same conditions as you keep the adult mantis. The eggs will hatch in around 6 weeks. If you plan to release the baby mantises into nature, make sure the eggs do not hatch in winter. If you want to postphone hatching of the eggs you should keep the ootheca at 8 °C (or between 6 to 10 °C), like in your attic, basement or garden house. If you find an ootheca in nature you can leave it there, the mother knows what she is doing and probably the eggs will be safe in winter.
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