The Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) should be kept in an enclosure that is at least 3 times as tall as the mantis is long, and at least 2 times as wide as the mantis is long. The gender of your mantis is a very important consideration when deciding on what size enclosure to purchase. This is because as an adult, females can get up to 3 inches long, while males can be less than 1 inch long as an adult.
The enclosure must also have adequate ventilation, and some kind of material on the ceiling of the enclosure which will allow the mantis to hang upside down during molting, as well as an empty space at the top which is at least 2 times the size of the mantis. They can be kept in glass or mesh cages, but enclosures with glass or clear plastic sides and a mesh or screen top are ideal, due to the humidity requirements of this species.
Orchids do best in a living vivarium with live plants and microfauna (e.g., springtails and isopods) who will act as a sort of “clean up crew” by breaking down the mantis’s waste and food scraps, thereby reducing the build-up of mold and bacteria that can make your mantis sick or even die. You can certainly keep them in temporary enclosures with fake flowers and no substrate, or with an easily disposable substrate such as sphagnum moss or just a paper towel; however, if you chose this approach you must be diligent about cleaning the enclosure and replacing the substrate at least once a week because the humid conditions required for this species will promote the growth of mold and dangerous bacteria without a healthy population of micro-fauna to help keep it in check.
TEMPERATURE & HUMIDITY
Orchid mantises are native to the tropical rainforests of Malaysia, so they generally need warm, humid conditions to thrive. The ideal temperature for an orchid mantis is 80°F to 85°F, but they can tolerate a range between 70°F and 90°F. Humidity should be kept above 60% relative humidity (RH), though younger nymphs seem to be less tolerant of higher humidity levels than adults. Nymphs should be kept at the lower end of the range of humidity, between 60% and 70% RH. Ventilation is also very important in the nymph stage. L1 nymphs in particular should be kept in a well-ventilated enclosure, with a top that allows for good airflow.
Depending on the amount of ventilation, the enclosure should be given a light misting once a day. Orchid mantises kept in mesh or screen cages should have their enclosures misted twice a day to maintain proper humidity. Not only that, but misting the enclosure also allows the orchid mantis to drink. Most mantises do not like getting sprayed directly, so it is best to try and spray around the mantis, but if you get them a little wet by accident, it is usually no big deal. Use spring water, distilled water, or water filtered by reverse osmosis (RO), but do not use plain tap water.
Orchid mantises prefer flying insects throughout their entire lifecycle.
- L1 and L2 nymphs: Should be fed D. melanogaster fruit flies.
- L3 and L4 nymphs: Should be fed D. hydei fruit flies.
- L5 nymph to adult: Should be fed house flies, hover flies, blue bottle flies, butterflies, and moths.