Desert Mantis (Eremiaphila braueri): Care Guide

Amidst the vast expanse of arid desert landscapes, an enigmatic creature reigns supreme, navigating the scorching sands with grace and precision. Meet Eremiaphila braueri, the Desert Mantis, a captivating ground-inhabiting mantid that has mastered the art of survival in the most challenging of environments. With its compact build, long legs, and distinctive molting behavior, this fascinating species has carved its place as a symbol of resilience and adaptation.

Eremiaphila braueri
© Phil Benstead, (CC-BY-NC)

General Description

Eremiaphila braueri, commonly known as the Desertmantis, is a small ground-inhabiting mantid with a compact build, perfectly adapted to the hot desert terrain. Thanks to their long legs, they are exceptional runners, swiftly navigating the arid landscapes they call home. Both males and females possess reduced wings, and their coloration can range from a subtle grey to a warm beige hue. Typically, Eremiaphila mantids are exclusively found on the ground, though occasionally, they can be spotted amidst lower vegetation. A unique characteristic of this genus is their peculiar molting behavior, as they undergo the molting process while standing.

Habitat and Distribution

The Desertmantis, Eremiaphila braueri, thrives in various desert regions across Jemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. They are remarkably well-suited to semi-desert and arid environments, where dry meadows and sparsely vegetated grounds bask in abundant sunlight.


The nymphs of Eremiaphila braueri exhibit a typical appearance, akin to larger nymphs, starting from the second instar (L2) stage. Throughout their development, they maintain their ground-dwelling nature, and both male and female nymphs lack fully functional wings, rendering them unable to take flight.


The Desertmantis possesses a notably high level of aggressiveness, especially when it comes to pursuing prey and interacting with other mantises. Due to this inherent nature, it is crucial to avoid keeping them together, as confrontations can lead to injury or even fatalities. Additionally, young nymphs at the third instar stage (L3) should be carefully separated to prevent any potential harm.

Species Specifics

Eremiaphila braueri is one of the fascinating members of the Eremiaphila genus, distinguished not only by their unique molting behavior but also by their specialization in thriving within desert ecosystems. However, it’s essential to note that they are not recommended for beginners in the world of mantis keeping. Their care demands attention to detail, and freshly hatched nymphs require specific feeding regimes. Providing a sufficiently high temperature is crucial to the successful keeping and breeding of these mantids. As for their diet, they tolerate only dry-living prey, such as springtails, and any other food sources may not be suitable for their sustenance.


The Desert Mantis, Eremiaphila braueri, exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males and females displaying discernible differences in size. Adult male Desert Mantises typically measure around 2.5 centimeters, while their female counterparts boast a slightly larger size, averaging around 3.5 centimeters. This disparity in size between the sexes is a common characteristic in many mantis species and is attributed to their distinct roles in reproduction and survival.


The lifespan of the Desert Mantis undergoes intriguing variations between the two genders. Male Desert Mantises generally live for approximately 6 months, comprising both their nymph and adult stages. During this time, they undergo around 8 moltings, shedding their exoskeleton multiple times to accommodate growth and development.

On the other hand, female Desert Mantises have a longer lifespan, spanning approximately 8.5 months, encompassing their nymph and adult phases. Within this extended period, they experience about 9 moltings, as they metamorphose from one stage to another. This disparity in lifespan can be attributed to the demands of reproduction and nurturing their offspring.


Determining the sex of the Desert Mantis can be accomplished with relative ease, particularly for individuals at or beyond the L6 stage of development. At this stage and beyond, both males and females can be sexed by counting the number of abdominal segments at the bottom of their abdomen.

For males, the count reveals approximately 8 segments, providing a clear distinction between the sexes. Adult male Desert Mantises are distinguishable by their long antennas, reduced wings, and a generally slender physique compared to females.

For females, the count of abdominal segments at the bottom of the abdomen will yield around 6 segments. Adult female Desert Mantises can be identified by their short antennas, reduced wings, and a noticeably more compact abdomen.

desert mantis care
© Arno Beidts, (CC-BY-NC)

Enclosure Setup: Creating a Desert Haven

When it comes to providing a suitable environment for the Desert Mantis (Eremiaphila braueri), mimicking its native arid landscape is essential. Creating a well-designed enclosure ensures that these fascinating creatures thrive and flourish in captivity.

Light Source and Photoperiod: To replicate the intense desert sun, halogen lamps or other heating lamps are ideal light sources for the Desert Mantis enclosure. During the summer, provide a daily photoperiod of approximately 14 hours of light, while in winter, reduce it slightly to around 12 hours. This simulated natural light cycle helps maintain the Mantis’ biological rhythms and supports its overall well-being.

Temperature and Humidity: A crucial aspect of the Desert Mantis’ enclosure setup is maintaining appropriate temperature and humidity levels. Ensure the daytime temperature within the enclosure ranges from 35°C to 45°C, offering a specific heated spot to allow the Mantis to regulate its body temperature. During the night, the temperature should not drop below 20°C to prevent any undue stress on these delicate insects.

Humidity plays a vital role in the Desert Mantis’ care, with daytime humidity levels between 20% and 30% and nighttime humidity between 40% and 50%. To achieve these levels, lightly spraying the enclosure every evening is recommended. However, be cautious not to over-saturate the habitat, as desert-dwelling species prefer drier conditions.

Terrarium Dimensions and Substrate: For single keeping, a minimal terrarium size of at least 20cm x 20cm x 30cm is suitable to provide ample space for the Desert Mantis to explore and move freely. However, communal keeping is not advisable due to the species’ high level of aggressiveness.

In terms of substrate, sand proves to be an excellent choice, replicating the desert floor while also allowing for easy maintenance and cleaning. A thin layer of sand provides the ideal base for the Desert Mantis to burrow or move around comfortably.

Terrarium Decorations: Though not entirely necessary, providing a shelter, such as an egg carton, is recommended to offer the Desert Mantis a retreat from the intense heat generated by the light source. These shelters add an element of security and help create a stress-free environment, promoting the Mantis’ well-being.

Feeding and Dietary Preferences: When it comes to nourishment, the Desert Mantis is a discerning eater. Their preferred and most suitable food source is firebrats, while other food insects are not recommended for their diet. Providing the appropriate nutrition is crucial for their development and overall health.

Keeping Similar Species: For those looking to expand their mantis collection, it’s worth noting that other Eremiaphila species can be kept similarly to Eremiaphila braueri. Understanding the specific requirements of each species is essential to ensure successful care and compatibility.

Breeding the Desert Mantis

Breeding the Desert Mantis (Eremiaphila braueri) is a captivating journey that unveils the wonders of life unfolding before your eyes. Understanding the intricacies of their mating behavior and the subsequent breeding process is essential to ensure a successful and rewarding experience.

Male and Female Copulation-Readiness: The male Desert Mantis becomes copulation-ready approximately one week after its last molt, while the female reaches this stage around two weeks after her final molt. This timing is crucial, as it indicates the ideal window for successful copulation.

Copulation Duration: During the mating ritual, the copulation duration for Desert Mantises typically lasts around 5 to 15 minutes. Within this brief timeframe, the crucial exchange of genetic material occurs, paving the way for the female to produce a fertile ootheca (egg case).

Ootheca Formation and Characteristics: Approximately one week after copulation, the female Desert Mantis begins the process of building the ootheca. These elongated round structures, measuring around 1.5cm to 2.5cm in size, boast a distinctive sharp ending. They are often light brown in color, and the female may camouflage them with sand to enhance their concealment in their native desert habitat.

Incubation and Hatching: The ootheca, containing around 10 eggs, is placed securely in the sand, where it awaits the right conditions for incubation. To ensure successful incubation, maintain a consistent temperature of at least 35°C throughout the process. Humidity levels should be kept between 20% to 40%, with light spraying every evening to maintain the required moisture.

The incubation period for the Desert Mantis ootheca lasts approximately 4 to 6 weeks. Within this period, the ootheca nurtures 3 to 15 tiny offspring. Once hatched, the nymphs emerge at a size of approximately 5mm, resembling larger nymphs in appearance.

Breeding Temperature and Humidity: Throughout the breeding process, it is essential to maintain a suitable environment for the Desert Mantis. Keep the breeding temperature between 35°C to 45°C and the humidity levels at 20% to 30%, with regular evening spraying to maintain proper hydration.

Breeding Hints and Challenges: Rearing the very small nymphs of the Desert Mantis demands attention and care. Providing their primary food source, springtails, is crucial to their development, as these nymphs are not yet equipped to handle larger prey. Be prepared for their incredible speed, as they can run with surprising agility.

Mating Tip: To facilitate successful mating, provide the female with some food before the approach of the male. This ensures that she is occupied with eating prey, creating a more conducive atmosphere for the mating ritual to unfold smoothly.

desert mantis
© alexcloke, (CC-BY-NC)


The Desert Mantis, Eremiaphila braueri, is a captivating ground-dwelling species perfectly adapted to thrive in the arid desert landscapes. This article explores their unique size, lifespan, and sexual dimorphism, as well as essential tips for sexing and creating a suitable enclosure. Breeding these enigmatic creatures reveals the marvel of ootheca formation and hatching. Witnessing their tiny offspring emerge is a testament to the wonders of nature. Through this journey, we learn about the delicate balance of caring for these captivating creatures and are inspired by their resilience and grace. The Desert Mantis embodies the art of survival in the desert, leaving a lasting impression on our hearts and reminding us of life’s extraordinary adventure.

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