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Caring for the Thistle Mantis, Blepharopsis mendica

Thistle Mantis

Blepharopsis mendica

Quick facts

Longevity: Approx. 1 – 1.5 years

Temperature Gradient: Daytime 93f (34c), Nightime no lower than 69f (21c)

Humidity: 30-40% Diet: Fruit flies, curly winged flies, green bottles

Disposition: Not aggressive

Adult size: Approx 5-6cm, 2-2.5 inches

Cleaning: Full clean every week (unless you have a bioactive set up)


The Thistle Mantis has a natural range from North Africa, certain parts of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Southern Asia to the Canary Isles. It is a beautiful insect, which has stunning markings once adult. It is green and white with a lattice pattern on its wings. It has feathered looking orange antenna, with the males having thicker, fluffier looking antenna than females. If startled, they will adopt a threat pose whereby they will splay their wings and hold their ‘arms’ out to flash the orange undersides, which have blue patches and white spots. It is a great pet for both adults and children alike. They are recommended for more advanced mantis keepers due to their need of heat and if not provided with the correct temperatures they will usually perish. They can be intimidated and will refuse to eat prey if it is too large.


A tall enclosure will be required as mantis are arboreal, meaning they naturally climb and therefore will readily climb in their enclosure. The recommended size for a nymph is a minimum of 3 times the mantis’ height and twice the width, so for example a 1 inch mantis will require a 3’’ tall x 2’’ wide enclosure. Keep the enclosure away from direct sunlight and draughty areas and don’t over decorate it before your mantis moults into an adult. A fussy, over decorated enclosure will potentially lead to a mis-moult which could be lethal. This mantis cannot climb glass or plastic, so some tissue placed down the side of the enclosure is recommended and the use of organza mesh across the top allows for both good ventilation and a surface from which they can hang.


Paper towel is recommended for nymphs and dry leaves can be used to decorate an enclosure for an adult.


This is an important aspect as too much humidity and poor ventilation often results in death, therefore only spray your mantis once a week to allow it to drink. For the rest of the time, it will obtain all the moisture it requires from its live food.


When a mantis is due to moult it will usually refuse live food, have a big, bulbous looking abdomen, be less active than usual and will have climbed to the top of the enclosure to hang upside down. It will then push its way out from its old exoskeleton. It is important that you do not touch or disturb your mantis during this vulnerable time. Low temperatures can cause a mis-moult so it is important to ensure that your temperatures are regularly monitored. If your mantis is not going to be kept in a heated room, a heat mat will be required on one of the outside walls. Place a thermometer inside the enclosure to measure the temperature to ensure it is around 34c.


Flying insects are a natural food source for Mantis and most breeders will advise avoiding crickets altogether, as they carry a bacteria which is known to kill mantis. Fruit flies and curly winged flies can be ordered online or found in exotic pet stores, and green bottles can be obtained in caster form from fishing shops. Curly winged flies will be easier to manage than casters as they have been specially bred so they can’t fly. If you do decide to use casters, to keep them from all emerging at once, store them in the fridge, then take a few out and place them in a tub with very small ventilation holes so the adult flies can’t escape and a pooter hole. Place them somewhere warm and they should emerge in around 3 days. Take a fresh batch of casters out every day to ensure your mantis has a steady supply of food. The easiest way to remove greenbottles from the tub is to place them back in fridge for around 10-20 minutes so they become lethargic and easier to grab with feeding tongs.


Spraying the enclosure once a week will allow your mantis to drink water droplets from the sides of the enclosure. Only a light spray will be required and ensure that the enclosure dries out within around half an hour. The live food your mantis eats will provide it with the majority of the moisture it needs for the rest of the week.


Regular cleaning of your mantids enclosure is an important aspect which will ensure your pets health. Full cleaning of the enclosure where the tissue is removed, and the inside is thoroughly cleaned should ideally take place at least once a week. Use a safe disinfectant such as F10, which contains no dyes or perfumes.


Mantis don’t need supplements and providing your flies are as healthy as possible, they will acquire all the nutrition they need from them.


This species is docile therefore will tolerate handling. Gently usher your mantis onto your hand from its enclosure, being careful not to pull it and damage any of its legs. They may run and jump if startled but usually with gentle handling, are quite happy to sit and have a look around.

If any sign of illness are noticed, contact us here at Riverview Reptiles for further advise.

We strongly encourage all pet keepers regardless of the species being kept, to practise the responsible pet ownership obligations as per the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

We hope you enjoy your new pet and if you need any further assistance, please get in touch.

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