If you want to start keeping mantises, but are not sure which species to choose, you are at the right place. In this article, I’ll show you the top 10 mantis species for beginners.
Technically, most mantises are easy to take care of, as long as you keep them under the right environment. But, keeping them in the right environment can be difficult. It may involve investment and efforts in providing and maintaining that environment. For instance, you might need a humidifier or heat mat, etc, or give more attention to the mantis.
Some mantis are pickier than other mantis in terms of food; some are too small to handle easily; some have a low survival rate in captivity, some are more readily available than others, and some are cheaper than the rest.
As a beginner, you want to consider something easier to maintain and cheap, before you are sure that keeping mantis is the right decision.
Before I start with the list, I’d like to clarify certain things.
- Technically, all species listed here, except for Mantis religiosa (European mantis), are mantids. Mantis is the term for those belonging to the genus Mantis. But, since most people use the word mantis instead of mantid, I am following the trend.
- The description of the mantises is based on the adults. Nymphs may look completely different in coloration.
- Female mantises have a longer lifespan than males.
Here are the top 10 mantis species that I strongly recommend for beginners. They are easy to find and keep due to their hardiness, high survivorship, ease of feeding and forgiving rearing environment. Do check out my guide on keeping mantis if you want to know how to keep a mantis and what to expect.
Hierodula membranacea is a species of big mantis. Along with some other species, H. membranacea is called the giant Asian mantis.
Originating from Southeast Asia, H. membranacea is one of the biggest mantises that can be kept in captivity. The adult mantis is about 10 cm in body length. Some sources claim they can grow up to 15 cm.
The adult mantis has a green to yellowish body. This allows them to perfectly camouflage in shrubs and bushes to wait for their prey.
H. membranacea is one of the easiest mantis to keep. It can be kept under room temperature, with a light misting every day. It is also easier to feed with, since you can use larger prey such as roaches or crickets, which are easily available.
Because of its size, you can handle it easily with a lower risk of accidentally hurting or killing it. Naturally, you need a larger tank to house your H. membranacea.
Sphodromantis viridis is another popular mantis in this hobby because they can be easily kept in captivity under room temperature with regular misting.
Known as the giant African mantis or the bush mantis, S. viridis is native to West Africa. However, it has invaded Europe, and can be found in Spain and Portugal. They are one of the biggest mantis species in Europe.
S. viridis are bright to dull green in color. There could be other color variations depending on their origins and rearing conditions. Their body length averages between 5-8 cm.
S. viridis are one of the mantis species with a long lifespan. The whole life cycle from hatching to adults takes about 3-4 months, where the mantises molt up to 12 times. Adult S. viridis can live up to 7-8 months.
Sphodromantis lineola is a species closely related to S. viridis. It is also known as the African mantis. While it is not as popular as its cousin, S. lineola makes good pets, as it is easy to keep and maintain in captivity.
The color of S. lineola can be green or brown, depending on their origins and rearing conditions. Their body length ranges between 6-8 cm.
S. lineola are rather short-lived. The average lifespan of the female adult S. lineola is 3 months, while the males live between 1-2 months under room temperature. It takes about 3 months for a newly hatched S. lineola to turn into an adult.
Mantis religiosa, otherwise known as the European mantis, is perhaps the most commonly kept pet mantis. As implied by its name, M. religiosa originated from Europe. However, it was accidentally introduced into the US in 1899, and has since established itself in the US.
M. religiosa is generally green in color, but can be beige if reared under a drier condition. They have a distinctive black circle with white or yellow center that resembles an eye on the inner side of both their forelegs. When threatened, M. religiosa raises its forearms and reveals the eyespots to scare off its enemy.
M. religiosa undergoes 6 molts to reach the adult stage. The adult M. religiosa is around 6-7 cm in length, and can live for 2-3 months.
Keeping and breeding M. religiosa are simple. They can be kept at room temperature with occasional misting.
In case you don’t know, Mantis religiosa has been the official state insect of Connecticut since October 1, 1977.
Also known as the Chinese mantis, Tenodera sinensis originated from China. It was accidentally introduced into North America in 1896.
The Chinese mantis is the largest mantis species in North America. It can grow up to 11 cm in length.
This species can be easily identified from the striking green stripes on the edge of both front wings. They also have a yellow spot at the underside of their body, between the forelegs.
T. sinensis is hardy and highly adaptive. It can survive well under room temperature and low humidity. Feeding is also easy because it accepts a variety of feeder insects such as crickets, roaches, grasshoppers and mealworms.
To keep T. sinensis, you need a large enough enclosure so that your mantis has enough space to molt and move around. Naturally, bigger enclosures are more expensive.
Hierodula patellifera, also called the giant Asian mantis, along with H. membranacea described earlier, is an easy-to-keep pet mantis originated from Asia.
H. patellifera is green or brown in color. Most of them have a distinctive white spot on their forewings.
The nymphs of H. patellifera undergo up to 7 molts to reach adulthood. This takes around 3 months. The adults are between 5-7 cm in length, which is considered small among other Hierodula spp. They can live for another 3-4 months as adults.
H. patellifera can survive well in room temperature with moderate humidity.
Parasphendale affinis is known as the budwing mantis. It is characterized by its brown body with spots. The females have short wings with unique patterns, which are displayed to scare off their enemies.
While P. affinis originated from Africa, it is a popular pet mantis worldwide due to its unique appearance and ease of care. They prefer a slightly warmer temperature, but do well under room temperature.
P. affinis is a medium-sized mantis species that can grow between 4 to 7 cm in length. They are voracious eaters, and can easily overfeed, which causes a health issue for the mantis.
Stagmomantis carolina is a species of mantis native to America, making them easily accessible for those who stay in America. It is the state insect of South Carolina.
S. carolina is green to brown in color. They can grow up to 5-6 cm in length, with their wings shorter than their abdomen. The longest lifespan recorded for S. carolina is 14 months, although they typically live only for 6-8 months.
Because S. carolina is native to the US, it is sometimes bred for homeowners or farmers to release in their gardens or farms to control pests. But of course, they do prey on beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.
Rhombodera is a genus of mantis collectively known as the giant shield mantis or hooded mantis. They are known to have an extended thorax that resembles a shield or hood.
While Rhombodera spp. are native to Asia, they are popular in pet trades, and can be found around the world.
Rhombodera spp. are medium to large size mantises, usually in green color. Depending on species, they can live between 3 to 9 months.
More commonly known as the Asian flower mantis or jewel flower mantis, Creobroter gemmatus is a beautiful mantis commonly found in Asia.
C. gemmatus is characterized by unique colorations on its body, making it the master of mimicry. The pattern on its front wings looks like the smiley face emoticon. Because of the unique appearance and the fact that it is easy to keep, C. gemmatus became popular in this hobby.
Undergoing incomplete metamorphosis, C. gemmatus goes through up to 8 molts to become an adult. The average length of an adult C. gemmatus is around 3-4 cm, which is the smallest species listed on this page. The adult C. gemmatus can live up to 9 months.
C. gemmatus can be grown at room temperature. It requires slightly higher humidity, which can be provided through light misting on a daily basis.