Oxyopsis gracilis: A Delicate Beauty of the Rainforest Canopy

When it comes to the mesmerizing world of praying mantises, one species that stands out is Oxyopsis gracilis. These captivating creatures fall under the category of middle-sized mantids with a typical body structure. With their distinct appearance characterized by the light green wings of females and the transparent wings of males, Oxyopsis mantids have earned a reputation for their gentle and enchanting aura.

Oxyopsis gracilis
© Rony Ristow, (CC-BY-NC)

General Description

Oxyopsis mantises possess an otherworldly charm, especially as night falls. Their eyes exhibit a fascinating transformation, turning a deep purple hue that adds an extra layer of allure. This mysterious color change is a spectacle that nature lovers and enthusiasts can’t help but marvel at. The elegance of their appearance extends to their habitat and behavior, making them an intriguing subject for those delving into the world of mantids.

Quick Facts about Oxyopsis gracilis
Genus: Oxyopsis
Common Name: None
Super-Order: Dictyoptera
Order: Mantodea
Family: Mantidae
Subfamily: Stagmatopterinae
Tribe: Stagmatopterini
First Description Author: GIGLIO-TOS
First Description Year: 1914
Spreading: Bolivia, Paraguay
Habitat: Bushes, trees, tropical rainforest
Aggressiveness: Low
Color Variants: Transparent wings in males

The Tropical Rainforest Dwellers

Oxyopsis mantids find their haven amidst the lush foliage of tropical rainforests. These little wonders of nature can be spotted perched on bushes and trees, perfectly adapted to their verdant surroundings. Their preference for these habitats isn’t just a coincidence; it’s a testament to their unique adaptations that enable them to thrive in such diverse environments.

Fascinating Diversity Within the Genus

Within the genus Oxyopsis, a myriad of species await discovery and exploration. To date, researchers have described at least 11 species under this genus. Among these, we encounter intriguing names such as Oxyopsis festae, O. oculea, O. peruviana, and the subject of our focus, Oxyopsis gracilis. Each of these species brings its own set of characteristics and quirks to the mantis world, contributing to the rich tapestry of diversity within the insect kingdom.

Nymphs on a Transformative Journey

Oxyopsis nymphs embark on a fascinating metamorphic journey, marked by distinctive stages of development. As they progress through their growth phases, they undergo remarkable changes in appearance. The second nymphal stage, known as L2, reveals shades of black and grey, offering a glimpse of their future forms. As they advance to the L3 stage, a vibrant transformation occurs, and the nymphs transition into a striking shade of green, symbolizing their eventual adulthood.

Habitat and Range

Oxyopsis gracilis finds its home in the diverse landscapes of Bolivia and Paraguay. These regions provide the perfect backdrop for these delicate creatures to flourish. With their affinity for bushes and trees within the tropical rainforest, they showcase how well they’ve adapted to their environment.

Gentle Nature and Keeping Recommendations

One intriguing aspect of Oxyopsis mantids is their low level of aggressiveness. This characteristic sets them apart from their more fierce mantid counterparts. Because of their mild temperament, Oxyopsis mantids can even be kept in groups without the fear of constant skirmishes. However, it’s crucial to provide ample space and a steady supply of nourishment to prevent any potential conflicts.

A Word of Caution for Aspiring Keepers

As captivating as Oxyopsis mantids are, their beauty comes with a caveat for aspiring mantis enthusiasts. Due to their specific needs and demands, particularly in terms of care and habitat conditions, these delicate creatures are not recommended for beginners in the world of mantid keeping. The intricacies of their requirements make them a challenge that experienced keepers can embrace, while newcomers might find it more rewarding to start with more resilient species.

Decoding the Gender Secret of Oxyopsis gracilis

Now, let’s dive into the intriguing world of sexing Oxyopsis gracilis – because who doesn’t love a little mantis mystery?

Size Matters, or Does It?

Size can be a giveaway when it comes to mantis genders, and Oxyopsis gracilis is no exception. Males measure in at around 4.5 centimeters, while their female counterparts show off a slightly larger frame, hitting around 4.8 centimeters. Those extra millimeters might not seem like much, but in the mantis realm, they tell a captivating tale of gender differences.


Life’s a race, and mantises are in it too. Oxyopsis gracilis males clock in at a lifespan of approximately 5.5 months. Here’s the scoop: that’s a combination of 3 months as a nymph and 2.5 months as a dapper adult. Alongside, females flaunt their longevity with an approximate 8.5-month journey. Their story unfolds across 3.5 nymph months and a confident 5 months as mature adults. When it comes to molting, both genders go through about 6 moltings before reaching their ultimate form.


So, how do you distinguish the gallant males from their female counterparts? When these mantises hit L5 and beyond, males take a step back in size, making them smaller than their female peers. A little numerical trick: males sport 8 abdominal segments during this stage, a clue to their identity.

But wait, there’s more! As adulthood knocks on their door, males reveal their unique charm. Transparent wings? Check. Long antennas? Double check. They might not be flying billboards, but their transparency and antenna length are the signs of a true mantis gentleman.


Now, let’s switch the spotlight to the fabulous females. From L5 onward, the story unfolds differently. Females show their cards by being bigger than their male counterparts at the same larvae stage. How’s that for a power move? The key? Count the abdominal segments – 6 segments mark the path to feminine glory.

As these lovely ladies blossom into adulthood, their presence is unmistakable. They’re not only bigger but also more compact compared to the males. And let’s talk wings! Female mantises channel their inner fashionista with lime-green wings, a dazzling display of nature’s artistic palette. Don’t forget their short antennas – a distinctive touch that sets them apart from the guys.

So there you have it – the gender code of Oxyopsis gracilis decoded. From size to wings, antennas to segments, the mantis world is an intricate dance of diversity and gender nuances. In this mantis masterpiece, males and females proudly wear their differences, adding to the awe-inspiring tapestry of the natural world.

Gender Clues in Oxyopsis gracilis
– Size: ~4.5 cm
– Lifespan: ~5.5 months (3 + 2.5) months, 6 moltings
– Traits: Smaller, transparent wings, long antennas
– Size: ~4.8 cm
– Lifespan: ~8.5 months (3.5 + 5) months, 6 moltings
– Traits: Bigger, lime-green wings, short antennas

Creating a Home Sweet Home for Your Oxyopsis Gracilis

Gearing up to welcome these enchanting mantises into your abode? Get ready to turn your space into a mantis haven, because Oxyopsis gracilis deserves nothing less!

The Light Play

Lighting the way for these beauties doesn’t have to be complicated. Daylight does the trick, but if you’re in the mood to up the ambiance, think halogen lamps and their warm glow. Neon light, however, is a no-no. It’s not a friend to mantis eyes and can leave a mark you’d rather avoid.

Give your mantises a day-night rhythm they’ll adore. About 12 hours of light is the sweet spot, imitating nature’s schedule just right.

Temperature Tango

Let the temperature dance commence! During the day, aim for a cozy range of 20°C to 30°C. And let’s not play freeze tag at night – ensure it doesn’t drop below 20°C.

A Humidity Hug

Humidity, the unsung hero of mantis comfort. For daytime, set the stage with 50% to 60% humidity, ensuring a lush environment. Nighttime is no time to dry out – keep it between 50% and 70% to pamper your mantis pals.

Here’s a tip: spritz the enclosure every 1 to 2 days. It’s like a mini spa day for your mantises, and they’ll appreciate the gesture.

Terrarium Talk

Size matters, even in the mantis world. For individual living arrangements, a cozy 10cm x 10cm x 20cm terrarium will do. But if you’re the ultimate matchmaker and want to house a community, go big with at least 30cm x 30cm x 40cm – that’s enough room for around 3 couples, each with their own mantis tale to tell.

Now, let’s style the place! Microphyllous plants add a touch of natural elegance, while well-branched twigs and barksticks offer mantis-friendly perches to strut their stuff.

Down to Earth

The ground beneath their feet matters too. Create a comfortable substrate with a mixture of earth and sand, maybe even a dash of pulp to keep things cozy.

Here’s a pro-tip: mantises love their molting space. Make sure they’ve got a place to hang out, quite literally. Provide a spot at the top of their enclosure where they can comfortably molt, like using window screen mesh. It’s a mantis-approved hangout that adds a touch of safety to their molting ritual.

Munchies for Mantis

Food – the way to a mantis’ heart. Drosophila, flies, moths, and small crickets top their menu. It’s like a gourmet feast that keeps them nourished and happy.

Light SourceDaylight is enough, Halogen lamps recommended, avoid neon light (damages the eyes)
Light LengthApproximately 12 hours
Daytime Temperature20°C – 30°C
Night TemperatureNot less than 20°C
Daytime Humidity50% – 60%
Humidity at Night50% – 70%
Humidity HintSpray enclosure every 1 – 2 days
Minimal Terrarium Dimensions (Single Keeping)At least 10cm x 10cm x 20cm
Minimal Terrarium Dimensions (Community Keeping)At least 30cm x 30cm x 40cm (for ~3 couples)
Terrarium DecorationsMicrophyllous plants, well-branched twigs, barksticks
Terrarium SubstrateEarth-sand mixture, pulp
Preferred FoodDrosophila, flies, moths, small crickets

So there you have it, the recipe for a mantis paradise for your Oxyopsis gracilis buddies. From lighting to housing, dining to décor, you’re all set to welcome these captivating creatures into a space they’ll truly call home.

Breeding Oxyopsis Gracilis: From Courtship to Little Miracles

Get ready for a mantis love story that leads to the pitter-patter of tiny mantis feet. Breeding Oxyopsis gracilis is a journey filled with timing, preparation, and a dash of entomological romance. Here’s the scoop on how these enchanting mantises bring their offspring into the world:

Timing Matters

As with all things mantis, timing is key. Male copulation-readiness kicks in about a week after his last molt. Meanwhile, females take a bit more time, around two weeks after their last molt, before they’re ready for some romantic endeavors.

When the moment arrives, copulation duration varies from 4 to 10 hours. It’s like their version of a candlelit dinner and a movie – mantis style.

Want a little extra help in the matchmaking department? Provide some food for the female. As she’s engrossed in her meal, the male can make his approach with confidence. It’s like a dinner date with a strategic twist.

The Egg-citing Beginnings

Once the romance blooms, the next chapter begins. Females start building oothecae, those magical egg cases, within 1 to 6 days after copulation. These egg cases are roundish, measuring around 1cm to 1.5cm in size, and they sport a lovely light brown hue.

Awaiting the Miracles

The anticipation builds as you wait for the tiny miracles to hatch. After 4 to 8 days of suspense, the oothecae begin to hatch. A clutch of 30 to 80 nymphs emerge, each measuring a mere 6mm to 7mm. Their appearance mirrors that of larger nymphs, with a charming black-grey hue.

Incubation: Warmth and Humidity

For the magic of hatching to happen, provide an incubation temperature of 22°C to 25°C. Keep the humidity dance going at 50% to 60%, with a light spray every 2 to 3 days. The incubation period spans around 5 weeks, a time of anticipation as the nymphs develop within their egg cases.

Growing Up Gracilis

As these little wonders hatch, you’re in for a treat. Watch them grow from a mere 6mm to 7mm into their stunning selves. Their journey is guided by temperatures ranging from 22°C to 30°C, and humidity levels maintained between 50% and 60%.

Numbering the New Generation

In a lifetime, a female can lay anywhere from 10 to 13 oothecae. It’s like a mantis version of a family planner, ensuring a diverse and thriving population.

oxyopsis gracilis close up
© Leo Barragán, (CC-BY-NC)


As we bid adieu to the realm of mantis marvels, Oxyopsis gracilis stands as a testament to the wonders that nature weaves. With light green wings that whisper secrets of rainforest canopies, and transparent wings that capture the essence of mystery, these middle-sized mantids cast a spell on any observer. Their gentleness shines through in their low aggressiveness, making them perfect candidates for cohabitation when provided with enough space and sustenance.

From the lush landscapes of Bolivia and Paraguay, these mantids emerge, their nymphs transitioning from dark beginnings to vibrant greens as they journey through life’s stages. Their intricate taxonomy tells a tale of their place in the mantis world, while their nuanced gender differences add layers of fascination to their story.

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