- Scientific Name: Hierodula Membranacea
- Native in: Many Asian countries
- Average Size as an Adult: Females 3.9 (approx. 10 cm), males 3 in (approx. 7,5 cm)
- Diet: Carnivorous, undemanding. Possible diet includes fruit flies, flies, roaches, grasshoppers, moths, bees, wasps, mealworms, crickets, and even amphibians, reptiles, or small mammals
- Lifespan: 8 months (males) – 14 months. Females in captivity can live up to 2 years
- Temperature: 72° F (approx. 22° C) to 86° F (approx. 30° C)
- Humidity: 50% – 70%
- Overall difficulty rating: Easy to medium
The Hierodula Membranacea is commonly referred to as “Giant Asian Mantis” which is also a name used for several other praying mantis species that belong to the Hierodula genus. These praying mantes can be found throughout many Asian countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, the South of China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, and they are known for their large size and vibrant colors.
This species is one of the largest praying mantis species that were discovered so far and the colors can from yellow to green, brown, or even reddish-brown. The females can grow up to 3.9 in (approx. 10 cm) and they make good and popular pet insects that are easy to care for and also easy to breed.
Just like all praying mantis species, the Hierodula Membranacea is carnivorous, which means that only insects, and for adults also reptiles, amphibians, and even small mammals will be hunted. Fruits, vegetables, honey, or other substances are no food for praying mantis.
The species is known to be not picky at all when it comes to prey. If it is small enough to be caught and fits in the mouth, it will be eaten. And that is basically anything that is smaller than the praying mantis itself.
When the praying mantis is still small, you can feed fruit flies (Drosophila) which can be bought in most pet shops. They usually sell fruit flies that are unable to fly, which makes feeding a lot easier. Springtails, crickets, normal house flies, grasshoppers, moths, or cockroaches can also be part of the diet of a Hierodula Membranacea. Always make sure that the prey is small enough for your pet and cannot hurt your praying mantis.
Catching your own prey for your pets might not be the best idea. Pesticides are often used in gardens and you never know if the insect you caught is infested by pests.
Don’t worry if your praying mantis rejects food for a few days, it might be a sign that it will start to molt soon. Food must be offered every day.
Praying mantis drink water, therefore a small water jar on the floor is a good idea.
The Hierodula Membranacea is known to be cannibalistic and also rather aggressive, which is why they need to be kept individually after the 3rd or 4th molt. Otherwise, they might kill each other.
The cage size of 20x20x30 is okay, 30x30x40 would be even better for adults. The height should be at least 3 times the length of the body. This is very important to allow them to molt properly and not hit the floor during the molting process. If they hit the floor while trying to crawl out of the skin, they might get stuck and die. If you see that your Hierodula Membranacea is struggling to get out of the old skin, you should help gently. The quicker you help, the higher the changes that you can safe your pet.
For the interior design, you can use twigs, or fake plants inside the cage to allow the praying mantis to climb around. You can also use a cork wall on one side to give the praying mantis even more options to climb.
In a glass or plastic cage, the lid should be some kind of mesh material to allow fresh air to circulate.
Soil, sand, humus, small stones, or damp kitchen paper are possibilities for the floor of the cage.
It is possible to keep Hierodula Membranacea on a plant in the living room without a cage, but make sure that the temperature in the room is warm enough and the humidity is either high when they start to molt, or you put your pet in a cage with high humidity when they want to start the molting process. But keeping the Hierodula Membranacea is only possible with females as males tend to fly around once they get their wings as adults, while females tend to stay in one place.
This species is used to warm temperatures and rather high humidity due to its origin in India and other rather warm and humid countries in Asia.
The temperature during the day should be between 72° F (approx. 22° C) and 86° F (approx. 30° C). At night the temperatures can be lower, but should not drop below 64,4° F (18° C).
You can use a heating mat under the cage or a heating lamp if the temperature is too low in your home.
The perfect humidity for this species is between 50 and 70%. The normal humidity in a home is usually around 30% – 50%, therefore it is necessary to provide higher humidity in the praying mantis cage by spraying some water.
You can spray some water every 1 to 2 days on the ground and against the wall to make sure the humidity stays at a constantly high level. Keep an eye on the soil and make sure to clean the cage properly if you detect any mold.
This species has the typical appearance of a praying mantis with a triangular head and gulping eyes on both sides, a long body, and long legs. The colors can vary between shades of yellow, green, brown, and to reddish-brown.
The females can grow up to 3.9 in (approx. 10 cm), and the males are slightly smaller and grow up to 3 in (approx. 7,5 cm).
The males are thinner in general because the females have the large abdomen to carry the foam and eggs for the oothecae.
Females have 6 segments of their abdomen, males have 8. After the last molt, both males and females develop wings. The males have wings that are longer than their bodies and can actually be used for flying, while females have rather short wings and cannot fly. That makes sense because once females are ready to mate as adults, they will send out pheromones and the males will start searching for them. Walking would take too long, so they fly, while the females simply wait.
The lifespan of a Hierodula Membranacea can vary between 10 months and up to 2 years for females in captivity. This species reaches the adult stage after 5 to 6 months and the males usually live for another 2 to 4 months, while the females tend to live for 6 months or longer after reaching adulthood.
2 to 3 weeks after the final molt males are ready to mate. Females are usually ready to mate approximately 4 weeks after the final molt.
Once the females are ready to mate, they will send out pheromones for the males to find them. The males carefully approach the females. This species is known for sexual cannibalism, which means that the females tend to attack the males after or sometimes during the mating process and eat them. If the male is not careful enough, the female might even attack and eat the male before the mating has started.
If the male has successfully managed to hop on the back of the female, the mating process itself can last between 8 to 12 hours.
After mating, the male tries to escape as quickly as possible before it ends up as a snack for the female. 3 to 10 days after the mating process, the female will lay the first ootheca which can contain up to 150 eggs. The female can lay several oothecae as long as she finds enough food. She does not need to mate again to create more oothcae.
Overall Difficulty Rating
The Hierodula Membranacea is easy to care for and very forgiving when it comes to small mistakes concerning temperature, humidity, or diet, which is why it is one of the most popular beginner species.
Compared to other praying mantis species they are aggressive when threatened and the bite of an adult Hierodula Membranacea might even break the skin of a human.
The overall difficulty is easy to medium.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂