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Common Name:
Chinese Praying Mantis
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Common Name:  Chinese Praying Mantis

Other Common Names:  none listed

Scientific Name:  Tenodera aridifolia sinensis  (Full Taxonomy)

Group:  

Origin or Range:  China

Relative Size:  Larger Than Average  
    (as compared to other praying mantis)

Average Lifespan:  0.55 year(s)

Compatibility:  Relatively Aggressive   
    (as compared to other praying mantis)

Category:  Insects » Praying Mantis
Animal Description:  

The Chinese Praying Mantis makes an interesting pet, and they are easily found in most pet stores.

In the wild, the Praying Mantis is quite beneficial as a pest control agent as they feed on insects, including the many harmful insects that may reside in gardens. Some larger tropical species will even feed on tree frogs, small hummingbirds, and lizards. It has even been reported that some have fed on mice. In order to capture its prey the Praying Mantis will wait perfectly still on a plant; its unusual body shape and its earthy color allows it to blend into its surroundings making them difficult to see. This allows the Praying Mantis to easily catch and devour insects that pass by. Some tropical mantids have brilliant colors and so closely resemble flowers that insects land directly on them. In order to escape potential predators these amazing animals have evolved with a hollow chamber in their bodies. This chamber allows them to detect high frequency sound. This ability allows them to remain alert against bats. Birds are also a natural predator for the Chinese Praying Mantis. Many people keep the Chinese Praying Mantis as a pet, even though mantids are one of the more difficult insect species to keep. These insects are nocturnal and are therefore mainly active at night. The Chinese Praying Mantis' lifespan is between five to six months.

The Chinese Praying Mantis is larger than most mantid species living in temperate climates. Chinese Praying Mantids grow up to 6 inches in length. They are generally green or brown in color and are recognized by their distinct "praying" posture. Their first thoracic segment is longer than that of other insects, allowing the Mantis to rotate and watch its prey unobserved. The Praying Mantis is the only insect that can turn 180 degrees. Their strong forelegs are covered in long spines, which help to trap insects. The Mantis sits with its arms raised and together in front of its head, as though it were preying, until the insect becomes trapped in the spines when it is devoured. The Chinese Praying Mantis has compound eyes on either side of its large, triangle-shaped head. Their forewings are leathery in texture and short, and the jaws of the Praying Mantid are very powerful. Chinese Praying Mantids go through a life cycle, which begins at the nymph stage, and young Mantids will sometimes eat each other. They continue to grow and molt and at full size have a camouflaged, angular appearance. Mature males have eight abdominal sections and females have six abdominal sections. As nymphs, or babies, Chinese Mantids do not have wings. After molting (shedding skin) several times, wing pads appear, which turn into full wings after the final molt. Fully grown females don't have much use for wings in late summer, because their abdomens are swollen with eggs, leaving it incapable of flight.

Although over 2,000 species of mantids are found nearly worldwide, many areas see only a few species commonly. For example, though there are at least 21 different species known to live in the United States, though the Eastern United States sees only three species of mantid regularly, one of which is the Chinese Praying Mantis. The Chinese Praying Mantis is not native to the United States. They were originally introduced from China, where they originate, in the early 1900s to help gardeners with pest control.

Specific Care Information: Relative Care Ease: Relatively Difficult

In captivity young mantids can eat fruit flies, but adults need more substantial food. Crickets, flies, grasshoppers, mealworms and roaches will all be readily accepted. Even though a young Chinese Praying Mantis can go long periods without eating, it is important to feed them regularly if you want them to thrive. If you have a Mantid and you cannot get feeder insects such as crickets from your local pet store you may also need to raise insects, such as pinhead crickets, flies or aphids for small Mantids and larger crickets for adults. Chinese Praying Mantids require large amounts of insects for food. Some hobbyists have used frozen brine shrimp as an alternate feeding option, though brine shrimp may not have the proper nutritional content to sustain and adult Praying Mantis; it may be used for babies if no other foods are available. Ideally live insects are the most nutritional and complete diet for the Chinese Praying Mantis. You can hand feed your mantis, most mantids will eat right from your hand.

A Chinese Praying Mantis can be kept nicely in small terrarium, though some keep them in jars as well. If you should choose to use a jar make sure it has plenty of air holes in it. If their enclosure does not have a proper lid, make a small hole in the enclosure so you can easily feed your Chinese Praying Mantis. Make sure to plug the hole with a damp sponge when it is not in use to maintain humidity. Chinese Praying Mantids must also be kept warm. Chinese Praying Mantids should have a stick to help them shed their skins, and the length of the stick or branch you provide should be three times the length of your Mantis. They also need to be misted regularly. The amount of misting or drinking water your Mantis needs is proportional to the humidity level you maintain for it: the more humid it is, the less water the Chinese Praying Mantis needs. Do not keep more than one adult Chinese Praying Mantis in the same enclosure, as these insects are solitary and may eat each other. Chinese Mantids can be handled, especially if handling is done regularly. Wild Mantids tend to bite more frequently than captive individuals.

Breeding and Propagation: Relative Breeding Ease: Relatively Easy

Generally, the Chinese Praying Mantis breeds in the summer months. They breed easily in captivity and two adults placed together will mate. Feed both first so they do not feel inclined to eat each other, and remove the male as soon as the two have mated! The female Chinese Praying Mantis will become quite fat and lay an 'ootheca' or large gooey mass consisting of anywhere from 12 to 400 eggs. The mass will harden, and she will lay up to six more, beginning a day or so after mating. After three to six months, the young will begin to hatch, covered in a protective coating which allows them to move safely to the outside of the ootheca, where they will begin to eat.

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Thursday, 23 October 2014