The Enigmatic Ghost Mantis: Phyllocrania paradoxa – Care Guide

Prepare to be enchanted by the captivating world of the Ghost Mantis, scientifically known as Phyllocrania paradoxa. This mysterious mantis species belongs to the Phyllocrania genus, a master of disguise and a true testament to the wonders of nature’s camouflage.

Phyllocrania paradoxa
© Wynand Uys, (CC-BY)

Unveiling the Phyllocrania Genus

Phyllocrania is a captivating and diverse genus of mantises that captivates with its exceptional mimicry skills. With its intricate blend of appendages, colors, and forms, it flawlessly imitates the appearance of an old, withered leaf. This remarkable adaptation allows it to seamlessly blend into its surroundings, particularly in the bushes and shrubs of open, dry areas. The Ghost Mantis stands as a true testament to the art of camouflage, showcasing the brilliant ingenuity of evolution.

The Ghost Mantis: Phyllocrania paradoxa

Diving deeper into the world of this remarkable genus, we encounter the Ghost Mantis, scientifically known as Phyllocrania paradoxa. With an aura of mystery surrounding it, this mantis species is a master at captivating observers with its unique characteristics and intriguing behavior.

Species Characteristics
Common NameGhost Mantis
SpreadingAcross Africa (sub-Saharan, Madagascar)
HabitatBushes, shrubs, trees in open, dry terrains
Color VariantsDisplaying shades of green, light brown/yellowish-dark brown/black, with adult males typically showcasing light brown hues
Size (Male/Female)Exhibiting an approximate size of 5cm
Lifespan (Male/Female)Male: Around 7.5 months (5.5 months as a nymph and 2 months as an adult), Female: About 12 months (6 months as a nymph and 6 months as an adult)
Sexing CharacteristicsMales sport a leaner physique, possess smaller appendages, and flaunt transparent wings; females, on the other hand, are more compact in body structure, featuring larger appendages

A Nymph’s Journey and Behavior

Witnessing the metamorphosis of the Ghost Mantis nymph is like peering into the very essence of adaptation. As it progresses from the second nymph stage (L2) to the third nymph stage (L3), its transformation is nothing short of mesmerizing. At the L2 stage, its ant-like mimicry serves as a defense mechanism, camouflaging it from potential predators. Advancing to the L3 stage, the nymph’s appearance becomes reminiscent of larger nymphs, showcasing its remarkable adaptability.

Creating the Perfect Enclosure for Ghost Mantises

Congratulations on your decision to care for the captivating Ghost Mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa)! Providing an optimal enclosure is key to ensuring the well-being and thriving of these enigmatic creatures. Let’s dive into the essential details to create a habitat that mirrors their natural environment.

Lighting and Temperature

Ghost Mantises thrive under daylight conditions. Natural light is sufficient, but incorporating halogen lights can provide additional warmth and mimic the sun’s intensity. Aim for approximately 12 hours of light per day to simulate their natural day-night cycle.

Lighting and Temperature
Light SourceDaylight and recommended halogen lights
Light LengthAround 12 hours
Daytime Temperature25°C – 30°C
Night TemperatureNot less than 20°C

Humidity and Substrate

Maintaining the right humidity levels is crucial. During the day, aim for a humidity range of 50% – 60%, while at night, slightly increase it to 60% – 70%. A good practice is to spray the enclosure every 2-3 days to maintain these levels. To ensure proper humidity retention, you can opt for an earth-sand mixture or pulp as the terrarium substrate.

Terrarium Size and Setup

Creating a comfortable living space is essential for Ghost Mantises to thrive. For individual mantises, a terrarium with minimum dimensions of 15cm x 15cm x 20cm is suitable. If you’re considering community keeping, especially with around 2 couples, opt for a larger space of at least 30cm x 30cm x 50cm. Ensure you have enough hanging space for safe molting, as these creatures need a secure spot to hang from during this critical process. A window screen mesh placed at the top of the enclosure serves this purpose exceptionally well.

Enrichment and Decorations

Mimicking the Ghost Mantis’s natural habitat is vital for their well-being. Provide branched twigs and dry foliage to create a habitat that closely resembles their wild surroundings. This will offer them perching spots and encourage natural behaviors.

Feeding and Companions

Ghost Mantises have a diverse appetite, preferring a diet that includes Drosophila, flies, moths, and various flying insects. To maintain their health, make sure to offer a variety of food sources. Keep in mind that similar species, such as Popa spurca, can be kept in a similar manner, simplifying your care routine if you decide to expand your collection.

Ghost Mantis
© suncana, (CC-BY)

Breeding the Ghost Mantis: A Fascinating Journey of Reproduction

Breeding the Ghost Mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa) offers a captivating glimpse into the world of mantis reproduction. This intricate process unveils a range of behaviors and stages, each contributing to the continuation of this enigmatic species.

Male and Female Copulation-Readiness

In the world of Ghost Mantises, males and females have their unique timing when it comes to copulation-readiness. Males typically reach readiness approximately one week after their last molt, while females take around two weeks. This staggered timing contributes to the successful pairing of these creatures.

The Dance of Copulation

When the time is right, the male and female engage in a mesmerizing dance of copulation. This intimate interaction lasts for about 3-4 hours, during which the male transfers his sperm to the female. This is a pivotal moment in their reproductive journey. To facilitate a smooth mating process, consider offering some prey to the female. This diversion keeps her occupied while the male approaches, enhancing the chances of successful copulation.

Ooth Building and Hatching

After copulation, the female begins the process of ooth (egg case) building. This remarkable stage occurs around 3-7 weeks after her last molt. The ooth, resembling a twig with an “antenna,” is typically placed on branches or twigs. The female has the remarkable ability to lay between 10-15 ooths in her lifetime, each containing up to 50 eggs.

The ooths undergo a transformation from a green hue to a rich brown shade within 1-2 weeks after building. To ensure successful incubation, maintain an incubation temperature of approximately 25°C and a humidity range of 60%-80%. Spraying the ooths every second day helps maintain the desired humidity levels. Over the course of about 4 weeks, the ooths incubate, eventually hatching to reveal a new generation of mantis nymphs.

Ooth Characteristics
Ooth Size3cm-5cm, occasionally up to 8cm
Hatching NumberUp to 50, averaging 10-40
Hatching Size6mm-7mm
Hatching AppearanceBlack, with ant-mimicry features

Breeding and Nurturing Conditions

During the breeding phase, it’s crucial to provide the right conditions for successful mating and nurturing. Maintain a temperature range of 25°C-30°C and a humidity level of 50%-70%.

Nurturing Newborn Nymphs

Once the nymphs hatch, they require attentive care. Avoid keeping them excessively wet, as overly damp conditions can be detrimental to their well-being. Interestingly, it’s common for males to spend several hours or even days near the female before copulation, which might extend the mating process over multiple days. After hatching, be sure to provide nourishment for the nymphs shortly, ensuring their well-being from the start.

Ghost Mantis
© Robert Taylor, (CC-BY)


As we bid farewell to this exploration of the Ghost Mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa), we’re left with a sense of wonder and admiration. From the artful mimicry of the Phyllocrania genus to the intricate journey of reproduction, these creatures offer a glimpse into the astonishing world of nature’s adaptations.

The Ghost Mantis, with its leaf-like camouflage and unique traits, stands as a testament to the marvels of evolution. As we’ve delved into its captivating mimicry, reproduction intricacies, and optimal habitat conditions, we’re reminded of the delicate balance that sustains life.

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