- Scientific Name: Idolomantis Diabolica
- Native in: Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenia
- Average Size as an Adult: females up to 5.1 in (approx. 13cm), males up to 3.9 in (approx. 10cm)
- Diet: Carnivorous. Picky. Possible diet includes fruit flies, flies, moths, and other flying insects.
- Lifespan: Males up to 1 year, females up to 1,5 years.
- Temperature: 27-35°; lower at night
- Humidity: 40% – 50% to simulate the dry season and 60% – 90% to simulate the rainy season for freshly hatched nymphs and adults that are about to molt for the last time.
- Overall difficulty rating: Hard
The Idolomantis Diablica is one of the more impressive species when it comes to appearance. It is commonly referred to as “Devil’s Flower Mantis” and as the name suggests, is one of the species that mimic flowers. It is the largest species (that was discovered so far) with that characteristic. The females can grow up to an impressive size of 5.1 in (approx. 13cm) while the males stay slightly smaller with up to 3.9 in (approx. 10cm).
This species is native to the African countries Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, and Kenia and needs high temperatures during the daytime, as well as very high humidity that simulates the rainy season to hatch and to do their final molt.
They are one of the more challenging species when it comes to keeping them as pets due to the special conditions they need to be kept in. Nevertheless, they are very popular pets among insect lovers because of their beautiful and impressive appearance.
The Idolomantis Diabolica is carnivorous, just like all other praying mantis species. That means that they only eat meat and no fruits, vegetables, or other plants.
What’s special about their diet is the fact that they specialize in hunting and eating only flying insects.
Their possible diet includes fruit flies, flies, moths, and other flying insects. They don’t do too well with crickets even though they will eat them if they are hungry. This makes it a little hard to feed them, then other praying mantis species since flying insects always come with the risk of escaping and flying around in your home.
This species cannot walk on any slippery surfaces, therefore they should have a lot of options to walk and climb on inside their terrarium. They have to be kept in a glass terrarium because they need very high humidity during the simulated rainy season.
It is possible to keep the Idolomantis Diabolica in small groups since they are not as aggressive towards each other as other praying mantis species, but cannibalism can never be completely excluded. It is therefore essential to always offer them enough food (especially for females) to minimize the risk of cannibalism.
A good size for a terrarium is 30 x 30 x 40cm, but it needs to be bigger if you are planning to keep two or three praying mantis together. The smaller the cage, the higher the risk they attack each other. But if the cage is too big on the other hand, they might not be able to find and catch their prey and starve.
The height of the terrarium is very important. It needs to be at least twice the length of the praying mantis. When praying mantis molt, they dangle from the ceiling and must not reach the ground. If they hit the ground while crawling out of the old skin, they might get stuck and die.
The interior of the terrarium needs more equipment than for other praying mantis species due to the specialty that this species cannot walk on smooth surfaces.
The floor can be covered with soil, sand, a mixture of soil and sand, damp kitchen paper, gravel, or other similar materials.
Several twigs with different widths should allow the praying mantis to climb all the way up to the ceiling which should be covered with mesh so that the praying mantis can hang upside down.
The side walls should be covered with cork so that the Idolomantis Diabolica can easily climb up.
The Idolomantis Diabolica is native to some African countries with hot temperatures during the day, a little milder temperatures at night, and a rainy season as well as a dry season.
This climate needs to be simulated when this species is kept in captivity.
The perfect temperature is between 80,6° F (approx. 27° C) and 95° F (approx. 35° C) during the daytime. The temperature can be lower between 64,4° F (approx. 18° C) and 71,6° F (approx. 22° C) during the night.
The temperature should not be lower than 82,4° F (approx. 28° C) for a longer period of time because the Idolomantis Diabolica will stop growing and eventually die.
If you don’t live in Africa and have your doors and windows open at all times, you will need a heating mat under the terrarium or a heating lamp to reach and maintain the required temperature.
This species is pretty special when it comes to humidity requirements because they need a simulation of both the rainy season and the dry season.
The baby Idolomantis Diabolica hatch from their oothecae during the rainy season. If you are dealing with babies, you need to maintain a humidity level of 60% – 90%. After the 3rd molt they expect the dry season to start, which means that you need to drop that humidity to 40% – 50%.
You can see the different humidity requirements in the change of appearance. While freshly hatched nymphs are black, they turn very light after the first molt. Once they molt for the 3rd time, their colors change to a light brown to simulate dried leaves. Now the humidity needs to be decreased and it does not need to be increased before they molt. They can endure drier periods, and it is more than enough to spray some water on the ground of the terrarium or against the walls every 2 to 3 days.
After a few more molts it is time for the rainy season. You will need to increase the humidity before they can start to prepare for their final molt to simulate the start of the rainy season. That means that the humidity should be between 70% and 90%. This can be achieved by spraying water into the terrarium 2 to 3 times a day.
The Idolomantis Diabolica is one of the largest praying mantis species that were discovered so far and the largest species that simulate flowers. The females grow up to an impressive size of 5.1 in (approx. 13cm) while the males are only slightly smaller with up to 3.9 in (approx. 10cm).
Males and females can be differentiated by their size and also by the number of segments in their abdomen. The females only have 6 segments and the males have 8.
Throughout their life, the Idolomantis Diabolica changes its appearance several times.
When this species hatches, it is black. Then they change their color to white, light brown, and in some cases party light pink. After the 3rd molt they expect the environment to dry up during the dry season and adapt their appearance to looking like a brown dries up leaf.
They will keep looking like a brown dead leaf until they are ready for their final molt. Before they molt for the last time, they expect the climate to change to the rainy season. Now the humidity needs to be increased so that the Idolomantis Diabolica gets ready to molt. After the final molt, it turns into this spectacular white and green creature with colorful fangs that simulate flowers and stays in this appearance until it dies.
The Idolomantis Diabolica usually needs approximately 6 months until it molts for the last time. After reaching the adult stags after this last molt, the females can live another 6 to 12 months while the males will live for another 3 to 6 months. Just like all praying mantis species, they tend to live longer in captivity.
The mating process takes place during the rainy season.
3 to 4 weeks after the last molt the females are ready to mate. The males are ready to mate approximately 2 weeks after their last molt.
Once the females are ready, they release pheromones to attract the males by slightly raising their wings. In this species, sexual cannibalism is not unusual. That means that the females tend to attack, kill, and eat the males before, during, or after the mating process if the male is not quick enough to escape. Males have to be extremely careful when they approach the females to make sure that they are not killed before they started to mate.
The mating process usually lasts between 2 to 8 hours.
The first ootheca is usually laid after 4 to 5 weeks. In some cases, the females start laying the first ootheca on the day after mating. Once the first ootheca was laid, the female will continue to lay new oothecae every 2 to 3 weeks. One female can lay up to 6 oothecae.
Every ootheca can contain between 10 and 60 eggs. The oothecae are usually between 4 and 6 cm in length and light brown. The incubation temperature needs to be between 84,2° F (approx. 29°C) and 90° F (approx. 32°C). At night the temperature can be between 66,2° F (approx. 19° C) and 75,2° F (approx. 24° C).
The nymphs will hatch during the rainy season approximately 6 to 12 weeks after the ootheca was laid. Baby Idolomantis Diabolica need an extremely high humidity of 70% – 100%.
The very high humidity can quickly lead to mold; therefore, it is very important to ensure good ventilation in the terrarium.
Overall Difficulty Rating
This species is one of the harder ones to keep as pets but is worth the effort. The Idolomantis Diabolica are usually not aggressive but need very high temperatures, the adaption between rainy and dry seasons when it comes to humidity, and the need to be fed only with flying prey. They can also not walk on smooth surfaces and need a lot of interior design to be able to move around. All of these factors make this species a little tricky to keep at home as pet. This is why the overall difficulty rating is “hard”.
Here is an article on whether praying mantis can be kept as pets: https://animal-knowledge.com/can-you-keep-praying-mantis-as-a-pet/
Here you can find the answer to your question if praying mantis make good pets: https://animal-knowledge.com/are-praying-mantis-good-pets/
Here is a list of the best beginner praying mantis species: https://animal-knowledge.com/what-are-good-beginner-praying-mantis-species/
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 🙂