Ambivia undata – Asian Twig-Mantis: Care Sheet

Ambivia undata, commonly known as the Asian Twig-Mantis, is a remarkable species belonging to the Mantidae family. Renowned for its intriguing appearance and clever camouflage behavior, this mantis captivates nature enthusiasts and mantis keepers alike.

ambivia undata

Species Description

  1. Mimicry as a Twig – Perfect Camouflage: Ambivia undata’s most outstanding feature is its impeccable mimicry as a twig. Their body form and coloration perfectly imitate the appearance of a small twig, complete with subtle details such as faux “bark” markings and twig-like texture. When at rest, they maintain a motionless posture, resembling a twig swaying gently in the breeze. This remarkable camouflage allows them to seamlessly blend into the natural environment, making them incredibly elusive to potential predators and unsuspecting prey.
  2. Habitats and Geographical Distribution: Asian Twig-Mantises are typically found in lush habitats consisting of bushes and shrubs. Their natural range includes countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Malaysia, North Vietnam, and Myanmar. These areas provide the ideal conditions for Ambivia undata’s survival and flourishing, as their camouflage abilities are well-suited to such dense vegetation.

Intriguingly, Ambivia undata often resides near coastal regions, further showcasing their adaptability to diverse environments. Their distribution across various geographical regions highlights their evolutionary success as a unique and captivating mantis species.

Nymph Description

As Ambivia undata undergoes its nymph stages, it exhibits distinct characteristics at different developmental phases:

  1. L2/L3: Black, Normal-Type Nymphs: In the early nymph stages, specifically L2 and L3, Ambivia undata nymphs showcase a uniform black coloration, known as the “normal-type” appearance. At this stage, they may not exhibit their full camouflage potential, resembling typical mantis nymphs in coloration.
  2. L4 and Up: Pronotum Elongates, Taking on a Twig-Like Shape: As Ambivia undata progresses to L4 and beyond, a remarkable transformation occurs. The pronotum, which is the dorsal plate covering the thorax, undergoes elongation, resulting in a twig-like shape. This remarkable adaptation contributes to their ability to mimic a twig more convincingly.

The transition from a black normal-type nymph to a nymph with elongated pronotum marks a significant milestone in Ambivia undata’s development.

Life Cycle and Sexing

The life cycle of Ambivia undata involves several molting stages for both males and females. The numbers in brackets represent the total lifespan, combining the nymph lifetime and the adult lifetime.


  1. Male Lifespan and Molting Stages:
    • Male Ambivia undata typically live for approximately 6 months (4 months as nymphs + 2 months as adults).
    • They undergo four nymphal stages before reaching the L5 (fifth instar) stage.
    • After the L5 stage, they undergo two more molts during their adulthood.
  2. Female Lifespan and Molting Stages:
    • Female Ambivia undata typically live for approximately 10 months (5 months as nymphs + 5 months as adults).
    • Like males, they also go through four nymphal stages before reaching the L5 (fifth instar) stage.
    • However, females do not undergo additional molting stages during adulthood.

Sexing Techniques for Nymphs and Adult Mantids:

  1. Male Sexing at L5 and Above:
    • To sex male Ambivia undata nymphs at the L5 stage and above, observe their physical characteristics.
    • Males are essentially thinner than females and possess eight abdominal plates at the base of the abdomen.
    • Adult male Ambivia undata mantids have long antennas and are volant, meaning they are capable of flight. Their wings are longer than their abdomen.
  2. Female Sexing at L5 and Adult Stage:
    • Female Ambivia undata nymphs at the L5 stage can be identified by their more compact appearance compared to males.
    • At the adult stage, female Ambivia undata mantids remain nonvolant and have short antennas.
    • They possess six abdominal plates at the base of the abdomen.

Accurate sexing is essential for responsible mantis keeping and successful breeding endeavors. Understanding the sexing techniques at various stages allows keepers to provide the appropriate care and ensure the well-being of their Ambivia undata mantids throughout their captivating life cycle.

asian twig mantis

Natural Habitat and Geographical Distribution

Ambivia undata, the Asian Twig-Mantis, thrives in lush and vegetated environments. They are commonly found in bushes, shrubs, and small trees, where their remarkable camouflage as twigs allows them to blend seamlessly into the foliage. Their natural habitat spans various countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, North Vietnam, and Myanmar. Additionally, they show a preference for coastal regions, further expanding their geographical distribution. This versatile mantis species showcases its adaptability to diverse ecosystems, making it a captivating sight in both natural and captive environments.

Terrarium Setup and Requirements

Optimal Terrarium Size for Single and Community Keeping

  1. Single Keeping:
    • For individual mantids, a suitable terrarium size is at least 20cm x 20cm x 30cm and up. This provides ample space for the mantis to move, climb, and exhibit natural behaviors comfortably.
  2. Community Keeping (Nymphs up to L5):
    • If keeping multiple nymphs up to the L5 stage together, ensure a minimum terrarium size of 20cm x 20cm x 30cm. This size can accommodate approximately 10 nymphs, allowing them sufficient room without overcrowding.
  3. Single Keeping (L5 and Up):
    • Once nymphs reach the L5 stage and beyond, it is best to keep them individually. This prevents territorial conflicts and ensures each mantis receives the necessary space and resources for proper development.

Essential Decorations and Substrate

  1. Decorations:
    • Provide various natural decorations, such as branches, twigs, leaves, and bark sticks, to mimic the mantis’s natural environment. These elements offer climbing opportunities and encourage natural behaviors.
  2. Substrate:
    • Use a suitable substrate, such as coconut substrate or mold, which mimics the floor of their natural habitat. The substrate can be supplemented with moss to enhance the overall aesthetic and provide additional hiding spots.
  3. Terrarium Plants:
    • Live terrarium plants add to the natural ambiance and provide hiding places for the mantids. Choose suitable plant species that are safe for the mantids and thrive in the terrarium environment.

Lighting, Temperature, and Humidity Requirements

  1. Lighting:
    • Daylight is generally sufficient for Ambivia undata. However, providing additional lighting using halogen lamps or other suitable lighting can enhance the terrarium’s aesthetics and create a more natural day-night cycle.
  2. Temperature:
    • Maintain a daytime temperature range of 25°C – 30°C (77°F – 86°F) to keep the mantids active and healthy.
    • During the night, ensure the temperature does not drop below 20°C (68°F) to prevent any stress-related issues.
  3. Humidity:
    • Daytime humidity should be kept at 60% – 70% to replicate the humid conditions of their natural environment.
    • Nighttime humidity should be higher, ideally at 70% – 90%, to provide the necessary moisture and prevent dehydration.

Maintaining appropriate lighting, temperature, and humidity levels is crucial for the well-being and success of Ambivia undata in captivity. A thoughtfully designed and well-maintained terrarium will provide these fascinating mantids with a conducive environment to exhibit their natural behaviors and thrive throughout their life cycle.

Feeding and Nutrition

Preferred Food Sources for Ambivia undata

Ambivia undata, the Asian Twig-Mantis, is a carnivorous species with specific dietary preferences. To ensure their optimal health and well-being, it is essential to provide them with a variety of suitable food sources. The preferred food sources for Ambivia undata include:

  1. Drosophila: Fruit flies serve as a staple food source for nymphs and smaller mantises, offering a rich source of protein and nutrients.
  2. Flies and Moths: Small flies and moths are also suitable prey items that cater to their predatory nature.
  3. Crickets: Smaller crickets make an excellent food choice for larger nymphs and adult mantids. Their active movement can stimulate natural hunting behaviors.
  4. Grasshoppers and Smaller Cockroaches: These larger prey items can be provided to adult mantids, offering a diverse diet and ensuring they receive adequate nutrition.

Importance of a Diverse and Balanced Diet for Healthy Growth

Offering a diverse and balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and well-being of Ambivia undata. A varied diet provides the essential nutrients, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that mantids need to thrive. Some key reasons for maintaining a diverse diet are:

  1. Nutritional Balance: Different prey items offer varying nutrient profiles, ensuring that the mantids receive a wide range of essential nutrients for proper development and energy.
  2. Stimulating Natural Behaviors: Providing a variety of prey items encourages natural hunting and feeding behaviors in Ambivia undata. This stimulation enhances their physical and mental well-being.
  3. Preventing Malnutrition: Relying solely on a single type of food may lead to nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. A diverse diet helps prevent malnutrition and associated health issues.
  4. Preventing Feeding Refusals: Offering a variety of prey items reduces the likelihood of mantids refusing to eat due to monotony or disinterest in their food.

Maintaining a diverse and balanced diet is a fundamental aspect of responsible mantis keeping. Observing Ambivia undata actively hunting, capturing, and consuming various prey items is not only a mesmerizing sight but also a testament to their successful adaptation as skilled predators in the natural world. By providing them with a wide range of suitable food sources, we ensure the continued health and vitality of these extraordinary mantids throughout their lifetimes.

ambivia undata care sheet

Reproduction and Breeding

Copulation Readiness and Behavior:

The mating behavior of Ambivia undata is a crucial aspect of their reproductive cycle. Understanding copulation readiness and behavior is essential for successful breeding endeavors. Here’s what to observe during the copulation process:

  • Male Copulation Readiness: Male Ambivia undata typically become sexually mature and ready to mate around two weeks after their last molt. At this stage, they exhibit more active and exploratory behavior, seeking potential mates.
  • Female Copulation Readiness: Female Ambivia undata become sexually mature approximately three weeks after their last molt. They release pheromones to signal their readiness to mate, attracting potential partners.
  • Copulation Period: The copulation process in Ambivia undata usually lasts for 4 to 5 hours. During this time, the male transfers his sperm to the female’s reproductive tract to fertilize her eggs.

Ootheca Building, Description, and Care:

Once copulation is successful, the female will proceed to build an ootheca, which is a protective egg case. Here’s what to expect during ootheca building, its description, and the care it requires:

  • Ootheca First Building: After copulation, the female will typically start building the ootheca within 4 to 6 weeks after her last molt.
  • Ootheca Description: The ootheca of Ambivia undata is longish and rectangular-shaped, measuring approximately 2cm to 3cm in length. It usually has a gray to brown coloration.
  • Ootheca Care: During ootheca building, the female may secrete a greenish foam to cover the egg case. This foam acts as an additional protective layer. Keep the ootheca in a suitable location within the terrarium to ensure proper care.

Incubation Period and Hatching Process:

The ootheca is crucial for the continuation of the Ambivia undata life cycle. Here’s what you need to know about incubation and the hatching process:

  • Incubation Period: The incubation period for Ambivia undata ootheca lasts approximately 4 weeks. During this time, the developing embryos grow within the protective casing.
  • Hatching Process: After the incubation period, the nymphs will begin to hatch from the ootheca. Expect approximately 40 nymphs to emerge from a single ootheca.
  • Hatching Look: The newly hatched nymphs will appear black and normal-shaped. They will be approximately 8mm in size.

Breeding Ambivia undata is a rewarding experience for mantis keepers. By observing and understanding their copulation behavior, ootheca building, and the hatching process, we can witness the continuation of this captivating species’ life cycle and appreciate the wonders of nature in our own terrariums. Providing the right care during the breeding process ensures the success and health of both the adult mantids and their offspring.

Handling and Interaction

Guidelines for Safe Handling and Minimizing Stress

When handling Ambivia undata, it is essential to prioritize their well-being and minimize stress. Here are some guidelines for safe handling:

  1. Choose the Right Time: Handle your mantis during the day when they are naturally more active and alert. Avoid handling them during molting periods or when they seem lethargic.
  2. Use Gentle Approach: Approach your mantis slowly and gently. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that may startle them.
  3. Use an Enclosure or Net: If you need to move the mantis, consider using an enclosure or soft net to guide them without direct physical contact.
  4. Avoid Frequent Handling: Limit handling to essential situations, such as cleaning the enclosure or during health checks. Frequent handling can be stressful and disrupt their natural behaviors.
  5. Wash Hands: Before handling, ensure your hands are free from any strong-smelling substances, such as lotions or perfumes, which may irritate or stress the mantis.

Evaluating Aggressiveness and Potential Challenges

Ambivia undata mantids can exhibit varying levels of aggressiveness, and it’s essential to be mindful of their behavior. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Territorial Behavior: Adult Ambivia undata mantids can be territorial and may show aggression towards each other or other mantis species. Keep them individually to prevent conflicts.
  2. Handling Adult Mantids: While some adult mantids may tolerate handling, it is generally best to minimize direct contact to reduce stress for both the mantis and the handler.
  3. Defensive Behaviors: When feeling threatened, Ambivia undata may display defensive postures, such as raising their forelegs or spreading their wings. Avoid triggering such responses during handling.
  4. Potential Challenges: Breeding and housing multiple adult mantids together can be challenging due to potential aggression and cannibalism. It is advisable to keep them separately to avoid conflicts.

Understanding the unique behaviors and temperaments of Ambivia undata can help foster a positive and stress-free interaction with these fascinating creatures. By respecting their natural instincts and providing appropriate care, we can ensure a healthy and fulfilling life for these captivating mantids in captivity.


In conclusion, Ambivia undata, the Asian Twig-Mantis, is a remarkable and captivating species that exhibits fascinating behaviors and adaptations. Their twig-like appearance and mimicry serve as an extraordinary defense mechanism, allowing them to thrive in lush vegetated environments. As responsible keepers, understanding their specific care requirements is essential for providing a conducive and nurturing habitat.

From their preferred terrarium size and suitable decorations to the significance of a diverse diet, every aspect of their care plays a crucial role in their overall health and well-being. Ensuring appropriate lighting, temperature, and humidity levels replicates their natural habitat, promoting their natural behaviors and growth.

During breeding, observing copulation readiness and behaviors aids in successful reproduction. The ootheca building process and subsequent hatching of nymphs are vital stages in their life cycle, representing the wonders of nature and the continuation of this intriguing species.

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