- Scientific Name: Pseudocreobotra Wahlbergi
- Native in: originally Kenia, nowadays East and South Africa
- Average Size as an Adult: Males 3-4, females 4-5cm
- Diet: Carnivorous, flying insects such as flies
- Lifespan: Males on average 6 months, females on average 10 months
- Temperature: 26-35°C
- Humidity: 40-60% during the day and 60-80 during the night
- Overall difficulty rating: medium
The Pseudocreobotra Wahlbergi is an African praying mantis that is commonly referred to as Spiny Flower Mantis. It is native to East- and South Africa and lives in hot and rather damp regions in grassland, shrubs, and flowers. Countries, where the Pseudocreobotra Wahlbergi can be found, include Kenia (where this species was originally found), Angola, Egypt, Kongo, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Zanzibar, and Zimbabwe. Even though this species is rather small, it is still eye-catching due to its beautiful appearance mimicking flowers with patterns that look like eyes or the number 9 on the wings. After every molt, this mantis can change its appearance, adapting even better to its environment.
Just like all praying mantis species, the Pseudocreobotra Wahlbergi is carnivorous. Like most praying mantis species that mimic flowers, it specializes in catching and eating flying prey and does not do too well with other insects.
Young nymphs (L1, L2) can be fed with fruit flies (Drosophila Melanogaster), L3 and L4 can be fed slightly bigger fruit flies (Drosophila Hydei), and L5 and bigger stages can be fed with even bigger flies. Since this species is one of the smaller ones, make sure that the prey is always small enough and cannot harm your pet. The prey should not be bigger than half the size of the mantis.
You can find a full list of possible prey in this article.
The Pseudocreobotra Wahlbergi is highly aggressive towards conspecifics and has to be kept individually to avoid cannibalism. Most breeders tend to separate the nymphs right after hatching or after the first molt, while other species can be kept together until L4.
Nymphs in L1 – L3 are still relatively small and can be kept in individual plastic cups with some tights on top or some kind of mesh to allow proper ventilation and also give the praying mantis the opportunity to dangle from the ceiling. Inside of the cup kitchen paper can be used on the ground and some small twigs or wood shavings to climb on. The height of the enclosure always needs to be at least 2 to 3 times the length of the praying mantis to allow proper molting. If the mantis hits the ground or any decoration during the molt, it might get stuck in the old skin and die.
The enclosure needs to be cleaned on a regular basis to avoid mold.
If you choose to use any twigs or other items that you collect yourself, make sure to kill any parasites by either microwaving the things for 30 seconds or baking them in the oven for 15 minutes at around 100° C – 120° C (approx. 210°F – 250°F).
Once the praying mantis gets bigger, you can also go for a bigger enclosure and equip them with real or fake plants, branches, and twigs. The praying mantis won’t make a difference between real and fake plants, it’s completely up to your preference.
Do not put too much decoration in the enclosure because they need enough space during their molt.
Here is a full guide on how to care for a pet praying mantis.
The Pseudocreobotra Wahlbergi needs constantly rather high temperatures of 79°F – 95° F (approx. 26-35°C) during the day. The temperature may drop at night to 73°F (approx. 23°C). It should never be lower than 68° F (approx. 20° C).
In order to achieve the constantly high temperature, you will either need a heating mat or a heating lamp. The heating mat can be placed under one part of the enclosure, or on the side, while the heating lamp either goes on top, or on one side of the enclosure.
This species thrives at a humidity level of 40% – 60% during the day and 60% – 80% at night. The best strategy to achieve this humidity level is to mist the enclosure every evening.
The Pseudocreobotra Wahlbergi is a rather small species compared to other popular praying mantis species that are kept as pets.
The males are usually around 1.2 in – 1.6 in (approx. 3cm – 4cm), while the females are slightly larger with 1.6 in – 2 in (approx. 4cm – 5cm).
The color palette varies between shades of pink, green, yellow, and white with a green pattern, but it can also be blueish, violet, or completely green-white. The legs and the head have green, orange, or light brown stripes that continue along the body. They have excrescence on the sides that look like petals. Once they reach adulthood, they have white or light-yellow wings with a beautiful dark green and black pattern that look like huge eyes, or the number 9 (or six, depending on the angle). Before they reach adulthood, a similar pattern can be found on the abdomen that will be raised when they feel threatened.
Their eyes have a violet shimmer.
Something very special about this species is, that they can adapt their appearance to the environment after every molt.
The difference between males and females is that the females have 6 segments on the abdomen, while the males have 8.
Females reach adulthood after approximately 7 molts, and males usually only molt 6 times.
The females need about 3 months to reach adulthood and live for another 7-10 months. In some rare cases, they live up to a total of 18 months.
Males usually need about 2,5 months to reach adulthood and live for another 4 months afterward. In some cases, males are known to live for a full year.
Many factors such as temperature, diet, and other circumstances have a great influence on the life span of a praying mantis. But even with the best care, it’s important to keep in mind that a praying mantis is still an insect that might at some point just die for literally no reason.
After the last molt, a praying mantis reaches adulthood and thereby the stage in life where it is ready for mating. Females generally need 3 to 4 weeks after the last molt to be ready for mating, while males only need 1 to 2 weeks after the last molt.
Once they are ready to mate, both males and females flap their wings without flying for several minutes. It is assumed that this is a way to spread pheromones and let the other sex know that the mating process may start.
Females have to be properly fed before letting introducing the male and the female to each other, otherwise, the male will be a snack before they even started. The best scenario is that the female is currently eating when the male approaches her.
The best-case scenario would be: The male is interested, and the female is distracted by food. The male approaches the female and jumps on her back, they mate, and he climbs off and escapes. The mating process usually lasts 5 to 7 hours on average, but anything between 4 and 12 hours is normal. If the female attacks the male during the mating process, or even eats his head, the mating can continue.
But there are many other scenarios that can happen. The male might simply not be interested. A high temperature of up to 104° F (approx. 40° C) can help to stimulate the male. In some cases, the female attacks the male when he tries to approach her and they cannot mate because he is injured- or dead.
In some cases, the males fly on the females’ back, but they won’t mate and he just sits there for days. If they make no attempt to mate, the male should be removed after 3 days in order to feed them both.
4 to 10 days after a successful mating process, the female can start to lay her first ootheca. She can lay up to 8 oothecae in total with 1 to 2 weeks between each egg case. The oothecae are usually dark colored and up to 2 in (approx. 5 cm) long.
If you want to incubate the oothecae, you need to hang it and not put it on the ground, otherwise, the larvae will have trouble getting out. The temperature needs to be between 82° F and 100° F (28°C – 38°C) during the day and can be slightly cooler at night. The humidity should be between 50% and 70%. You can achieve that humidity up spraying water into the tank where the oothecae hang every 1 to 2 days. Make sure that the ventilation is good so that no mold appears. Mold can easily kill all the eggs in an ootheca.
After 4 to 7 weeks 20 to 80 tiny larvae will hatch simultaneously while dangling from tiny see-through threads. After the first molt, the baby nymphs are black and look like ants to scare off predators.
Overall Difficulty Level
The Pseudocreobotra Wahlbergi is a very popular species among praying mantis lovers because of its astonishing appearance. It needs high temperatures and rather high humidity that simulates the climate in Africa where it is native.
The overall difficulty rating is medium. It is possible for beginners to keep this species, but there are definitively easier species to start the hobby with.
If you are looking for the best praying mantis to start, check out this article.
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 🙂