Orchid Mantis: The Most Beautiful Insect You Have Never Seen

The orchid mantis is a stunning insect that mimics an orchid flower. Learn how to care for this exotic pet in a terrarium.

Imagine having a living orchid in your room. An orchid that moves, breathes and even eats. An orchid so beautiful and fascinating that you could watch it for hours. Doesn't that sound fantastic?

You don't just have to imagine it. You can make it a reality. Because there is an insect that looks exactly like an orchid: the Orchid Mantis.

A purple green Orchid Mantis
A purple-green orchid mantis. Source: By I, Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0

What is the orchid mantis?

The orchid mantis is a rare and unusual species of mantis that lives in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. It has a pinkish-white body that imitates the shape and color of an orchid flower. This allows it to perfectly camouflage itself in its environment and surprise its prey.

It is not only a masterpiece of nature, but also a wonderful pet for terrarium lovers. It has a life expectancy of about a year and a body length of up to 7 cm (2.8 in).

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), it is not yet endangered or threatened. However, it is very difficult to find and breed. Therefore, it is also very sought after and expensive on the market.

If you are interested in this unique beauty, you have come to the right place. In this article you will learn everything you need to know to keep an orchid mantis in a terrarium. You'll learn how to set up a suitable home for her, how to feed and water her, how to breed and raise her, and how to compare her to other mantises.

Watch this video to see an orchid mantis in action.

How to set up a terrarium for an orchid mantis

The orchid mantis needs a glass terrarium as a dwelling. This is because glass is very good at releasing heat and ensuring that the temperature remains constant. Other materials like wood are too efficient at retaining heat.

Terrarium size

The terrarium should be at least 200 mm (8 in) long and 300 mm (12 in) high. Orchid mantis grows up to 7 cm (2.8 in) and needs enough space to move around. Generally, it is said that the terrarium for mantises should be about twice to three times the length in all directions. However, your new pet will of course be happy about more space.

The ideal shape of the terrarium is a vertical cylinder or cuboid shape. This provides the orchid mantis with more height and less floor space. This is because it is an arboreal species that likes to cling to plants and branches.

Humidity and temperature

The terrarium should be well ventilated to avoid mold growth and air stagnation. Ventilation grids or slits on the sides or top are suitable for this. The humidity should be between 60% and 80% to mimic the natural conditions of the orchid mantis. You can measure this with a hygrometer.

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You can get hygrometers quite cheaply on Amazon.

The temperature should be between 22°C and 28°C to keep the orchid mantis healthy and active. You can check this with a thermometer. To regulate the temperature, you can place a heating mat on one side of the terrarium. This heating mat should be controlled with a thermostat to keep the temperature constant.

Grow lights

The lighting should be bright and indirect so as not to blind or burn the animal. You can use an LED lamp or a daylight lamp that is on for about 12 hours a day. The lamp should hang at least 30 cm (12 in) above the terrarium.

To make the terrarium attractive and natural for the orchid mantis, you can add some suitable plants and decorations. The plants should be tropical and moisture-loving, such as orchids, bromeliads, tillandsias or ferns. The decorations should be sturdy and safe, such as branches, cork tubes or plastic flowers.

How to feed an orchid mantis

The orchid mantis is a carnivorous insect that feeds on live insects. The main food of the orchid mantis is flies, moths, butterflies and other flying insects. However, it may also eat other insects such as crickets, house crickets, or mealworms.

Feeding the orchid mantis depends on its size and age. As a baby (nymph), she needs one or two small insects every day. As an adult, it needs one or two large insects every two to three days. The insects should not be larger than the head of the orchid mantis.

To put the insects into the terrarium, you can use tweezers or tongs. You should not simply throw the insects into the terrarium, as they may hide or attack the orchid mantis. You should also not feed dead or sick insects, as they could harm the orchid mantis.

An orchid mantis on an orchid
The orchid mantis is very well camouflaged. Source: Philipp Psurek, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

How you supply them with water

Watering the orchid mantis is done by spraying the terrarium with a spray bottle. You should spray the terrarium with lukewarm water every morning to increase humidity and create droplets on the plants and decorations. The orchid mantis will lick these droplets to quench its thirst.

You should not add water to the terrarium as it could cause waterlogging and mold growth, and you should not use distilled or chlorinated water as it could be harmful to the orchid mantis. Instead, you should use filtered or boiled water.

You should watch out for some common pests and diseases that can affect the orchid mantis. These include mites, fungi, bacteria and viruses. You should clean and disinfect the terrarium regularly to avoid these. You should also check the orchid mantis regularly for signs of stress or illness, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, discoloration or injury.

There are some tips you can follow to safely and gently handle and interact with the orchid mantis. You should only take the orchid mantis out when necessary or out of curiosity, as it is most comfortable in its terrarium. When you lift it up, you should gently grasp the orchid mantis with two fingers on the sides of its thorax or let it climb onto your palm. You should never squeeze, shake, or drop the orchid mantis.

Keep the orchid mantis in a quiet and bright room so as not to frighten or stress it. Do not confront them with loud noises or fast movements and do not bring them into contact with other animals or people that could threaten or hurt them.

The orchid mantis in comparison

Orchid mantis is one of many species of praying mantis that exist in the world. There are over 2,400 species of praying mantises, varying in size, color, life span, diet, habitat, etc. Some are very popular and common as pets, others are very rare and exotic.

Illustration of a young orchid mantis
Illustration of a young orchid mantis. Source: Sara Bea Delgado, CC BY-SA 3.0

To give you an overview of the variety and diversity of praying mantises, we have created a comparison table showing different types of praying mantises and their characteristics.

Orchid MantisUp to 7 cm (2.8 in)Pink-whiteUp to 1 yearFlying insectsTropical forests of Southeast Asia
Spotted Praying MantisUp to 10 cm (4 in)Brown-green with black spotsUp to 1 yearFlying and crawling insectsTemperate and subtropical areas of Europe and Asia
Stick insectUp to 15 cm (6 in)Green or brown-gray with spikesUp to 2 yearsPlant food such as leaves and flowersTropical and subtropical areas of Africa and Asia
African mantisUp to 18 cm (7 in)Green-yellow with red eyesUp to 3 yearsFlying and crawling insects, small vertebratesTropical and subtropical areas of Africa and Madagascar
Flower mantisUp to 5 cm (2 in)White-yellow with pink or purple accentsUp to 1 yearFlying insectsTropical and subtropical areas of Africa and Asia

While the Orchid Mantis is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful mantises, this beauty is short-lived due to its short lifespan. If you want to enjoy such a pet for longer, the African mantis may be more for you. However, you will need a larger terrarium.

African giant praying mantis on a green leaf
An African mantis. Source: Tsester, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0


In this article, you learned more about the orchid mantis, a stunning insect that mimics an orchid flower. You learned how to care for this exotic pet in a terrarium, how to set up a suitable home for the orchid mantis, and how to feed it.

We hope you enjoyed this article and that you are excited about the orchid mantis. If you are looking for more information and support, please feel free to leave us a comment or visit the resources and links below. We thank you for your attention and invite you to read more articles on our blog. For example, 5 types of insects and other animals for a closed terrarium.

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