Indian Boxer Mantis (Ephestiasula pictipes) Care Guide

The Ephestiasula genus houses a fascinating group of mantises, and the Indian Boxer Mantis (Ephestiasula pictipes) stands out with its unique characteristics. This small but captivating species displays intriguing behaviors and distinct physical attributes that set it apart from other mantises. The Indian Boxer Mantis (Ephestiasula pictipes) is distinguished by its oversized grasping forelimbs, which appear remarkably like a pair of boxer gloves. These formidable “gloves” serve as a striking adaptation that enables the mantis to capture prey with exceptional precision. Their appearance adds to the allure of this species, making it a captivating and visually intriguing member of the mantis family.

Ephestiasula pictipes
By I, Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0


Ephestiasula, commonly known as the Indian Boxer Mantis, is a small and captivating species of praying mantis with distinctive characteristics. These unique creatures are renowned for their boxer-like behavior, moving their forelimbs in a circular forward and backward motion, while the inner side is visible during this mesmerizing display. Alongside this fascinating behavior, they possess very long antennas that are swiftly moved through the air, adding to their charm and uniqueness.

One of the remarkable features of mantises from this genus is their low aggressiveness. This peaceful nature allows them to be kept together without major issues. However, it’s essential to ensure that they are well-fed when kept in groups, as insufficient nourishment may lead to cannibalistic tendencies among cohabitating individuals.

The Ephestiasula genus comprises several fascinating species, including Ephestiasula amoena, E. intermedia, and E. pictipes, with the latter being the Indian Boxer Mantis. This particular species is known for its black nymphs, which later transform into larger brown nymphs as they mature. This metamorphosis provides a captivating glimpse into their life cycle.

The Indian Boxer Mantis is typically found in the lush landscapes of India and Nepal, where they inhabit bushes. In these natural habitats, they find the necessary cover and resources to support their survival.

In terms of keeping difficulty, the Indian Boxer Mantis falls into the medium category. Their fast-moving antennas present a challenge when they are in their nymph stage, requiring careful attention to ensure their proper feeding.

With their intriguing behavior, long antennas, and captivating appearance, the Indian Boxer Mantis stands as an enthralling addition to the world of praying mantises, captivating the hearts of nature enthusiasts and insect lovers alike.


The Indian Boxer Mantis (Ephestiasula pictipes) exhibits slight sexual dimorphism in its size, with males and females varying in length. Adult males typically measure about 2 centimeters (cm) in length, while females are slightly larger, reaching approximately 2.5 cm in size.


The lifespan of the Indian Boxer Mantis differs between males and females, encompassing both the nymph stage and the adult phase.

  • Male Lifespan: On average, male Indian Boxer Mantises live for about 6 months. This duration includes approximately 4 months as nymphs and 2 months as adults.
  • Female Lifespan: Female Indian Boxer Mantises have a longer lifespan compared to males, living for approximately 10 months. This timeframe consists of around 4 months as nymphs and 6 months as adults.


Determining the sex of the Indian Boxer Mantis can be achieved through a combination of counting abdominal segments and observing specific physical characteristics.

  • Male Sexing:
    • L5 and Above: To sex male mantises from the L5 (fifth instar) nymph stage and above, one can count the abdominal segments at the bottom of the abdomen. Males typically have eight segments in this area.
    • Adult Stage: Adult male mantises can be distinguished by their longer wings compared to females. They also possess a more slender body. If needed, counting the abdominal segments can also help identify the sex.
  • Female Sexing:
    • L5 and Above: For female mantises from the L5 nymph stage and beyond, counting the abdominal segments at the bottom of the abdomen is a reliable method. Females generally have six segments in this region.
    • Adult Stage: Adult female mantises can be recognized by their larger abdomen and shorter wings in comparison to males. As with males, counting the abdominal segments remains a helpful sexing technique.
indian boxer mantis
Gerrit Assink CC-BY-NC-ND

Keeping the Indian Boxer Mantis in Captivity

Caring for the Indian Boxer Mantis (Ephestiasula pictipes) in captivity requires attention to specific terrarium setup, conditions, and feeding. By providing a suitable environment and proper care, you can ensure their well-being and enjoy observing their captivating behaviors.

Terrarium Setup

When preparing the terrarium for the Indian Boxer Mantis, consider the following factors:

Light Source: Daylight is generally sufficient for these mantises, but to optimize their habitat, you may use Halogeneous-lamps or other recommended lighting sources. Ensure a light duration of about 12 hours to simulate natural day-night cycles.

Temperature: Maintain a warm and stable daytime temperature ranging from 25°C to 32°C (77°F – 89.6°F). To avoid stress, ensure the night temperature does not fall below 20°C (68°F).

Humidity: Moderate humidity levels are essential for their well-being. During the day, aim for 60% to 70% humidity and slightly increase it to 70% to 80% at night. Mist the terrarium every evening, ensuring not to make it too wet.
Did you known that praying mantises can drink water droplets?

Terrarium Size: For individual mantis keeping, a terrarium with minimum dimensions of 10cm x 10cm x 15cm (3.9″ x 3.9″ x 5.9″) is suitable. If you plan to keep multiple individuals together, opt for larger dimensions of at least 30cm x 30cm x 50cm (11.8″ x 11.8″ x 19.7″) to accommodate approximately 5 pairs.

Terrarium Decorations: Create a stimulating and natural habitat by adding branches, plants, twigs, leaves, and barksticks to the terrarium. These enriching elements encourage natural behaviors and make the environment visually appealing.

Terrarium Substrate: Choose coconut-humus or wet cellulose as the substrate, as they help maintain proper humidity levels and provide a suitable surface for molting.

Ensure enough hanging space is available for the mantises to safely molt. Having something at the top of the enclosure, such as window screen mesh, allows the mantises to securely hang during the molting process.


Offer a diverse diet to the Indian Boxer Mantis, including:

  • Pea-louses
  • Fruit flies
  • Small crickets
  • Firebrats
  • Small flies

Observing their feeding patterns and adjusting the diet as needed will help keep them in optimal condition.


Breeding the Indian Boxer Mantis (Ephestiasula pictipes) can be a rewarding and fascinating endeavor. Understanding the mating process, ootheca development, and incubation conditions are key to successfully rearing the next generation of these captivating mantises.

Mating and Copulation

Mating readiness varies between male and female mantises. Male copulation-readiness occurs about 7 days after their last molting, while females become receptive approximately 10 days after their last molting. Once both partners are ready, copulation typically lasts for about 3 hours.

Ootheca Formation

After successful copulation, the female starts building the fertile ootheca (egg case) approximately 10 days later. This pod-shaped structure is typically attached to twigs and bark within the terrarium. The female can produce up to 15 oothecae, each measuring between 1cm to 1.5cm in length and having a box-shaped, longish appearance. The color of the ootheca ranges from yellow to light brown.

Incubation and Hatching

To ensure proper incubation, maintain a temperature of 25°C to 30°C (77°F – 86°F) and humidity levels of 60% to 80%. Spray the oothecae every 2 days to maintain the desired humidity. The incubation period lasts about 3 weeks.

The hatching process takes place within 5 to 10 days after the incubation period, and the number of hatchlings can vary. On average, about 26 nymphs emerge from a single ootheca, but it is possible to have up to 36 hatchlings.

Hatchlings and Rearing

The newly hatched nymphs are tiny, measuring about 5mm in size. They appear black, resembling larger nymphs. To provide them with the best conditions for growth, maintain a temperature range of 25°C to 30°C (77°F – 86°F) and humidity levels of 60% to 80%. Proper ventilation is crucial during this stage.

Breeding Tips

During the breeding process, ensure good ventilation within the enclosure to maintain a healthy environment for the mantises. It is common for the male to spend 1 or 2 days expanding after mating, as they often remain close to the females during this time, providing several opportunities for copulation.

To facilitate successful mating, consider offering some food to the female. This will keep her occupied with eating prey while the male approaches her, increasing the chances of successful copulation.


The Indian Boxer Mantis is a small praying mantis species with distinctive behaviors, such as moving its forelimbs in a circular motion and possessing long, swift antennas. In captivity, maintain a warm and stable environment, offer a diverse diet, and create a stimulating terrarium with suitable decorations. Breeding involves copulation, ootheca formation, and hatching. Proper care ensures a rewarding experience, witnessing the enchanting life cycle of these captivating creatures.

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