Empusa Fasciata – Conehead Mantis: Care Guide

Welcome to the captivating world of the Conehead Mantis, scientifically known as Empusa Fasciata. These enigmatic creatures, members of the Empusa genus, have intrigued entomologists and nature enthusiasts alike with their distinctive appearance and remarkable hunting prowess. With a specialization in catching flying insects, these middle-sized mantids exhibit a level of agility and precision that leaves observers in awe.

In conclusion, Empusa Fasciata, the Conehead Mantis, captivates us with its remarkable adaptations, aerial hunting skills, and captivating behaviors. As we explored its taxonomy, distribution, and natural habitat, we gained insights into its unique place within the mantis order and the importance of providing a suitable environment for its well-being in captivity. Understanding the specialized diet and hunting techniques of Empusa Fasciata revealed its prowess as an agile predator, making it a true marvel in the insect world.
© Eleftherios Katsillis, (CC-BY)


Empusa Fasciata, aka Conehead Mantis, holds a significant place within the taxonomy of the mantis order. It belongs to the Mantodea order, a diverse group of insects commonly referred to as praying mantises. Within this order, Empusa Fasciata finds its home in the Empusidae family, which distinguishes itself with unique characteristics.

In their natural habitat, Empusa Fasciata can be found across regions spanning from North-East Italy to Westasia. These captivating creatures thrive in dry meadows, particularly favoring areas with small bushes and grasses. They demonstrate a strong preference for direct sunlight and dry conditions, reflecting their adaptation to warm and arid environments. Camouflaged expertly to blend seamlessly with their surroundings, they often perch on vegetation, patiently awaiting the arrival of flying insects that make up their specialized diet.

Appearance and Behavior

Empusa Fasciata exhibits a mesmerizing array of physical features and unique adaptations that make it a standout in the mantis world. With an average size ranging from 5cm to 8cm, it boasts a slender and elongated body, adorned with striking stripes and patterns along its thorax and abdomen. Its coloration varies from shades of brown and green, enabling it to blend seamlessly with its dry meadow habitat. The most prominent feature is its large, protruding compound eyes that provide excellent vision for detecting prey. Empusa Fasciata’s elongated, spiky forelegs enable it to be a highly efficient and agile predator, specialized in catching flying insects.

Empusa fasciata, exhibits a fascinating ability to adapt its coloration, sometimes taking on a distinctive pink hue. This unique characteristic sets it apart from the majority of praying mantis species, making it one of the few known for its pink coloration. This adaptation is particularly intriguing, as the mantis can seamlessly blend into its surroundings, showcasing the remarkable diversity and adaptability within the world of mantises.

Empusa Fasciata’s aerial hunting techniques showcase its prowess as an accomplished predator. With lightning-fast reflexes, it deftly snatches flying insects from mid-air, exhibiting remarkable agility and precision. Its elongated forelegs act like deadly spears, ensuring a swift capture of its airborne prey. This specialized skill makes Empusa Fasciata an aerial marvel within the mantis world, with its hunting prowess matched by few other insects

Terrarium Setup

Enclosure size

When setting up a terrarium for Empusa Fasciata, attention to detail is essential to mimic its natural habitat. A terrarium size of at least 20cm x 20cm x 30cm is suitable for single mantis keeping, while community keeping of multiple individuals requires a larger enclosure, such as 50cm x 50cm x 60cm. Empusa Fasciata, like other members of the Empusidae family, cannot climb smooth surfaces, so the terrarium should have cork tiles or similar materials laminated on at least one wall to provide ample climbing space.

Decorations and Substrate

To create an environment that resembles its native dry meadow habitat, furnish the terrarium with natural decorations. Small branches, twigs, and grasses can serve as perches for Empusa Fasciata to rest and hunt. Avoid densely stacking decorations to allow for free movement. As for substrate, an earth-sand mixture, dry grass, or pulp creates a suitable ground for the mantis to walk on and helps maintain the appropriate humidity levels.

Temperature, Humidity, and Lighting

Empusa Fasciata thrives in warm and dry conditions, requiring a daytime temperature range of 30°C to 40°C. During the winter or diapause period, temperatures can be lowered to 5°C to 10°C. To maintain proper humidity levels, keep the daytime humidity at around 30%-40%, and the nighttime humidity at 40%-50%. Regularly spray the enclosure with water to provide adequate moisture, with more frequent spraying during the diapause period. Empusa Fasciata benefits from halogen lamps or other heating lamps as a heat source, ensuring they receive the required warmth.

Proper lighting is also crucial for the mantis’s well-being. During summer, provide around 12 hours of light per day, while in winter, natural daylight is often sufficient. Ensuring a well-balanced day and night cycle helps regulate Empusa Fasciata’s behavior and maintains its biological rhythms.

Molting Space

Additionally, when designing the terrarium, it is crucial to consider the molting process of Empusa Fasciata. Providing enough hanging space for them to safely molt is essential for their well-being. Having a structure at the top of the enclosure from which the mantis can hang is highly beneficial. A window screen mesh serves as an excellent option for this purpose, as it offers a secure and supportive surface for the mantis during molting. Ensuring adequate molting space helps prevent potential injuries and enables Empusa Fasciata to undergo this critical stage of growth smoothly, contributing to their overall health and vitality in captivity.

conehead mantis
© Eleftherios Katsillis, (CC-BY)


Empusa Fasciata, as a specialized predator, sustains itself with a diet primarily composed of flying insects, such as flies, wasps, moths, and other aerial creatures. Using their elongated forelegs, these agile hunters seize their prey from mid-air with remarkable accuracy. When kept in captivity, providing a diet that emulates their natural prey is vital for their health and well-being.

A combination of live insects like fruit flies (Drosophila), houseflies, and small moths ensures they receive essential nutrients for optimal growth and development. To maintain a well-balanced diet, offering gut-loaded insects further enhances their nutritional intake. Keepers should carefully observe their feeding behaviors and adjust the prey size accordingly, considering that younger individuals might require smaller prey, while adults can consume larger insects.

Life Cycle and Reproduction

Nymph Development Stages

Empusa Fasciata undergoes a fascinating life cycle, starting from an egg and progressing through several nymph stages before reaching adulthood. After hatching from the ootheca (egg case), the nymphs emerge as tiny replicas of the adults, called L1 nymphs. As they grow, they molt through various instars, shedding their exoskeleton to accommodate their increasing size. Each molting stage represents a distinct nymph instar (L2, L3, L4, etc.), with unique characteristics and growth milestones. The final molting stage culminates in the adult phase, marked by sexual maturity and the ability to reproduce.

Sexing Methods

Sexual dimorphism becomes apparent as Empusa Fasciata reaches adulthood. Males and females exhibit distinct physical differences that aid in their identification. In the L5 nymph stage and beyond, sexing methods rely on counting abdominal appendages. Male Empusa Fasciata have six appendages at the bottom of their abdomen, whereas females have five. As adults, males possess double-combed antennae, while females have normal and shorter antennae. These differences enable keepers to determine the sex of their mantids accurately.


Mating in Empusa Fasciata is a crucial stage in their life cycle, as it leads to the production of fertile eggs. Male Empusa Fasciata typically reach copulation readiness about four days after their last molt, while females become receptive to mating approximately six weeks after their last molt. Successful copulation involves careful timing and behavior.

Providing an ample food supply for the female before mating can increase the chances of successful copulation. After a successful mating event, the female will produce an ootheca, which houses the fertilized eggs. Ensuring the right environmental conditions and providing sufficient nutrition during this period contribute to the health and viability of the ootheca and the subsequent hatching of nymphs.


Breeding Empusa Fasciata and caring for the resulting ootheca and nymphs is a fascinating and rewarding aspect of keeping these captivating insects.

Ootheca Formation

After successful copulation, the female Empusa Fasciata will produce an ootheca, which serves as a protective case for the fertilized eggs. The process of ootheca formation involves the female secreting a frothy substance that hardens into a durable, box-shaped structure. She skillfully attaches the ootheca to a suitable surface in the terrarium, such as branches or leaves, ensuring it is hidden from predators and potential threats. The ootheca’s placement and durability play a crucial role in safeguarding the eggs during the incubation period.

Incubation Conditions

Once the ootheca is in place, it enters an incubation period where the developing embryos receive the necessary warmth and humidity for growth. Maintaining an incubation temperature of around 35°C and a humidity level of 30%-40% is crucial for the successful development of the eggs. The incubation period typically lasts for about 2-3 weeks, although the duration may vary slightly depending on environmental factors. As the eggs near hatching, they may darken in color, indicating that the nymphs are ready to emerge.

Caring for Nymphs

Upon hatching, the tiny nymphs emerge from the ootheca, beginning their journey through various instar stages. It is essential to provide the newly hatched nymphs with a nurturing environment. Offer them a diet of small, appropriately-sized prey such as fruit flies to ensure they receive adequate nutrition for growth.

empusa fasciata conehead mantis
© Heather Marie, (CC-BY)


In conclusion, Empusa Fasciata, the Conehead Mantis, captivates us with its remarkable adaptations, aerial hunting skills, and captivating behaviors. As we explored its taxonomy, distribution, and natural habitat, we gained insights into its unique place within the mantis order and the importance of providing a suitable environment for its well-being in captivity. Understanding the specialized diet and hunting techniques of Empusa Fasciata revealed its prowess as an agile predator, making it a true marvel in the insect world.

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