Pseudempusa pinnapavonis: Keeping Guide

In the world of mantises, where diversity reigns and adaptation is the key to survival, one species stands out for its enigmatic charm and extraordinary abilities. Meet Pseudempusa pinnapavonis, a mantis that has captivated entomologists and nature enthusiasts alike with its intriguing behaviors and remarkable features. In this article, we embark on a journey into the captivating realm of Pseudempusa pinnapavonis, exploring its habitat, unique camouflage tactics, nymph characteristics, and the fascinating world of the Pseudempusa genus.

Pseudempusa pinnapavonis
© qinglan, (CC-BY-NC)

General Description

Pseudempusa pinnapavonis, a remarkable member of the mantis family Mantidae, is a captivating species known for its distinct characteristics and intriguing behaviors. This species belongs to the genus Pseudempusa, a group of imposing mantids characterized by their substantial size and compact body shape reminiscent of species like Euchomenella. However, Pseudempusa mantids are not specialists in their dietary preferences; they exhibit a voracious appetite and will seize upon nearly any prey smaller or equal in size to themselves.

While their aggressiveness towards prey is moderate, it’s important to note that keeping them in a community setting is not recommended. Larvae of Pseudempusa pinnapavonis can be housed together up to the L4/L5 stage, but it’s advisable to separate females as soon as possible to avoid conflicts.

Impressive Camouflage

One of the most striking features of Pseudempusa pinnapavonis is its remarkable camouflage behavior when faced with danger. These mantids have mastered the art of blending in with their surroundings, often perching on twigs or leaves with their arms extended wide to mimic the appearance of a twig. This camouflage serves as both a defense mechanism and a tool for ambushing unsuspecting prey.

Nymph Characteristics

The nymphs of Pseudempusa pinnapavonis exhibit a distinctive appearance. They are typically red-brown in color, boasting glossy bodies and legs adorned with stripes, creating a striking spider-mimicry effect. This adaptation helps them evade potential predators and enhance their hunting prowess.

Species Diversity

Within the genus Pseudempusa, there are currently at least two described species: Pseudempusa pavonina (GIGLIO-TOS, 1916) and the subject of our focus, Pseudempusa pinnapavonis (BRUNNER VON WATTENWYL, 1892). These species showcase the diversity and adaptability found within this fascinating genus.

Species FeaturesDescription
Color VariantsNone
Camouflage BehaviorImpressive twig mimicry when threatened
Nymph CharacteristicsRed-brown, glossy with striped legs for spider mimicry
AggressivenessMedium, especially towards prey and other mantises
HabitatBranches of bushes and trees
SpreadingMyanmar, Thailand
First DescriptionBRUNNER VON WATTENWYL, 1892


Pseudempusa pinnapavonis thrives in the enchanting landscapes of Myanmar and Thailand, where it has adapted to the branches of bushes and trees as its primary habitat. This choice of dwelling provides these mantids with ample opportunities for both concealment and predation. Amidst the lush foliage of these regions, these mantids master the art of blending in, using their twig-mimicking camouflage to remain inconspicuous to both potential threats and unsuspecting prey. The dense, vibrant ecosystems of Myanmar and Thailand offer these mantids a bountiful hunting ground, making them an integral part of the intricate web of life in these captivating locales.

Impressive Threat-Behavior and Unique Wing Features

As adults, Pseudempusa pinnapavonis showcases an awe-inspiring array of behaviors and features that set them apart in the world of mantises. These remarkable insects have honed their evolutionary adaptations to a fine art, making them true masters of survival and threat display.

One of the most striking aspects of their adult stage is their impressive threat-behavior. Both male and female individuals exhibit this behavior, creating a spectacle that leaves observers in awe. Their subwings, unlike those of many other mantis species, are adorned with a burst of colors and iridescent eye-spots. These vivid displays are not just for aesthetic appeal; they serve as a potent warning to any potential predators or rivals.

When a Pseudempusa pinnapavonis feels threatened or needs to establish dominance, it unfurls these captivating subwings with precision. The sudden unveiling of these vibrant colors and eye-catching patterns can startle and deter would-be attackers. It’s a vivid declaration of “I am not to be trifled with.” This display is a visual symphony of hues, reminiscent of nature’s warning signs, conveying a clear message: “Approach with caution.”

But the surprises don’t stop at visual displays. Female take their threat-behavior to the next level by adding an auditory dimension. They have developed the remarkable ability to produce a unique sound, a rustling pulp-like noise, by rubbing their subwings against specially adapted black areas on their abdomen. This acoustic addition to their threat display adds an extra layer of deterrence. Imagine encountering one of these mantises in the wild, and suddenly, you hear an eerie rustling emanating from its wings – a truly mesmerizing experience.


When it comes to identifying the sexes of Pseudempusa pinnapavonis, a keen eye for detail and an understanding of their unique characteristics are essential. These fascinating mantises exhibit distinct differences between males and females, both in terms of size and physical attributes.

Size Matters

Size is often the first clue in distinguishing between male and female Pseudempusa pinnapavonis. Males tend to be smaller, measuring approximately 7.5 to 8.5 centimeters in length, while their female counterparts boast a larger stature, ranging from about 9.5 to 10 centimeters. This size differential is a common trait among mantis species and serves as a reliable initial indicator.

Life Span Insights

Understanding their lifespans can also provide valuable insights. For males, the typical lifespan is around 10 months, which includes approximately 4 months as nymphs and 6 months as adults, encompassing approximately 9 moltings during their development. In contrast, females have a longer lifespan, spanning approximately 13 months, with 5 months spent as nymphs and a remarkable 8 months as adults, undergoing a similar 9 moltings.

Sexing in Different Stages

The differentiation between males and females extends to various stages of their development:

L5 and Above:

  • Males: At the L5 stage and beyond, males are not only smaller but also thinner than their female counterparts. A distinctive feature to look for is the black eye-spot inside the arms (coxa).
  • Females: In comparison, females at this stage are more compact, with a red eye-spot inside the arms (coxa), sometimes sporting a black circle at the center.

Adult Stage:

  • Males: In adulthood, males continue to be smaller and thinner than females. They possess long, slender antennas and a striking upper abdomen that blazes with a vibrant red hue. Their wings are notably longer than their abdomen, which equips them as proficient flyers.
  • Females: Adult females maintain their compact build but have a larger abdomen. They feature short and thin antennas and wings that are shorter than their abdomen, making them less valent in flight.
SizeApproximately 7.5cm – 8.5cmApproximately 9.5cm – 10cm
Lifespan10 months / ~ 9 moltings13 months / ~ 9 moltings
Abdomen– Smaller and thinner than females, upper side is blazing red– More compact than males
Coxa color– Black eye-spot– Red eye-spot, sometimes with a black circle
Antennas– Long, thin antennas– Short and thin antennas
Wings– Wings are longer than the abdomen– Short wings
Flying– Proficient flyers– Less valent in flight

These distinctions in size, lifespan, and physical characteristics offer a comprehensive guide to sexing Pseudempusa pinnapavonis. Whether you’re observing them as nymphs or admiring their adult forms, these nuances provide a fascinating glimpse into the world of sexual dimorphism among mantises. As with many aspects of the insect world, the diversity in size and morphology serves as a testament to the intricate dance of adaptation and evolution that shapes these extraordinary creatures.

Keeping Pseudempusa pinnapavonis

Maintaining a thriving habitat for Pseudempusa pinnapavonis, these enchanting mantises, requires attention to detail and a keen understanding of their environmental needs. Whether you’re a novice enthusiast or an experienced keeper, these guidelines will help ensure the well-being of your mantises.

Light and Temperature

  • Light Source: While daylight can suffice, it’s advisable to complement it with halogen lamps or similar lighting sources. This ensures that your mantises receive adequate illumination for their activities.
  • Light Length: Aim for a light cycle of approximately 12 hours each day to mimic natural daylight patterns.
  • Daytime Temperature: Maintain a temperature range between 25°C and 28°C to provide the warmth that Pseudempusa pinnapavonis thrives in.
  • Night Temperature: During the night, ensure that the temperature does not drop below 20°C, as these mantises are sensitive to cold.


  • Daytime Humidity: Keep daytime humidity levels within the range of 40% to 70% to create a comfortable environment for your mantises.
  • Humidity at Night: Nighttime humidity should be slightly higher, ideally between 60% and 80%.
  • Humidity Maintenance: To maintain proper humidity levels, consider spraying the terrarium every 2 to 3 days. This helps create the necessary moisture for your mantises to thrive.

Terrarium Dimensions and Decor

  • Minimal Terrarium Dimensions (Single Keeping): For individual mantises, provide a terrarium with dimensions of at least 20cm x 20cm x 30cm. This ensures they have adequate space to move and molt safely.
  • Minimal Terrarium Dimensions (Community Keeping – Larvae): If keeping larvae in a community setting up to L4 stage, a minimum of 20cm x 20cm x 20cm is suitable.
  • Terrarium Decorations: Enhance the terrarium’s aesthetics and functionality with twigs, branches, bark sticks, and dry leaves. These elements mimic their natural habitat and provide perching spots for your mantises.
  • Ensure there is ample hanging space within the terrarium for your mantises to safely molt. Provide something at the top of the enclosure, such as window screen mesh, which allows them to hang securely during this critical process.

Terrarium Substrate

  • Use a substrate consisting of a pulp and earth-sand mixture. This substrate helps maintain humidity and provides a suitable surface for molting and egg-laying.

Preferred Food

  • Pseudempusa pinnapavonis have diverse dietary preferences. Offer them a variety of prey, including Drosophila, flies, moths, crickets, grasshoppers, migratory locusts, and cockroaches. This variety ensures a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.

Similar Species

  • If you intend to keep other mantis species, note that Pseudempusa pinnapavonis can be housed similarly to species like Euchomenella sp.

By adhering to these guidelines, you’ll create an environment that closely replicates their natural habitat, promoting the health and well-being of your Pseudempusa pinnapavonis mantises. As you observe these captivating creatures in their carefully crafted terrarium, you’ll gain insights into their unique behaviors and adaptations, fostering a deeper appreciation for the mantis world.

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Breeding Pseudempusa pinnapavonis is a captivating endeavor that allows you to witness the intricate dance of nature unfold. These remarkable mantises offer a unique breeding process, with specific timelines and requirements to ensure a successful reproduction.

Copulation Readiness

  • Male Copulation Readiness: Approximately 2 weeks after their last molt, males become ready for copulation.
  • Female Copulation Readiness: Female mantises typically reach copulation readiness about 3 weeks after their last molt.
  • Copulation Duration: The actual copulation process is relatively brief, lasting less than 11 hours.

Ooth Building and Hatching

  • Ooth First Building: Female Pseudempusa pinnapavonis begin building their oothecae (egg cases) approximately 4 to 8 weeks after their last molt.
  • Ooth Hatching Duration: After the oothecae are constructed, it takes about 3 to 4 weeks for the eggs within to hatch.
  • Ooth Place: Unlike some mantis species, Pseudempusa pinnapavonis does not attach their oothecae to surfaces. They are typically found within the terrarium, so careful observation is required.

Reproductive Potential

  • Number of Ooths per Female: A female can lay between 3 to 5 oothecae in her lifetime, each containing numerous eggs.
  • Ooth Size: The oothecae are relatively large, measuring between 5cm to 6cm in size.
  • Ooth Shape: They have a roundish shape with a small aeration hole, which facilitates proper airflow.
  • Ooth Color: The oothecae are yellowish to light brown in color.

Incubation and Hatching

  • Incubation Temperature: Maintain an incubation temperature range of 25°C to 30°C for the oothecae.
  • Incubation Humidity: Humidity levels during incubation should range from 60% to 80%. Lightly spray the oothecae every 2nd day to maintain the necessary moisture.
  • Incubation Period: The incubation period lasts approximately 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Hatching Number: A single ootheca can yield an impressive number of hatchlings, with up to 160 nymphs emerging, although an average of 100 to 130 is more typical.
  • Hatching Size and Look: Newly hatched nymphs measure about 10mm in size. They have a distinctive appearance with red-brown coloration, wet-looking bodies, striped legs, black spots, and even mimic the appearance of spiders, enhancing their survival chances.

Breeding Conditions

  • Breeding Temperature: Maintain a breeding temperature ranging from 25°C to 28°C.
  • Breeding Humidity: Keep humidity levels between 50% to 70% during the breeding phase. Lightly spray the enclosure every 1 to 2 days.
  • Breeding Hint: Provide high incubation containers as the hatching nymphs have a unique behavior of “roping” down approximately 10cm from the ootheca.

Mating Tips

  • Encourage a successful mating encounter by offering some food to the female. This distracts her as she indulges in prey, allowing the male to approach and initiate copulation without interruption.

Breeding Pseudempusa pinnapavonis is a rewarding experience, offering insights into the fascinating world of mantis reproduction. By providing the appropriate conditions and adhering to the specific timelines, you can witness the life cycle of these incredible insects unfold before your eyes, from ootheca construction to the emergence of the next generation.


In the world of mantises, Pseudempusa pinnapavonis stands out as a marvel of adaptation and reproduction. Breeding and caring for these unique insects unveils their intricate life cycle, from copulation readiness to ootheca construction and hatching.

Creating the right conditions, including lighting, temperature, and humidity, is key to their well-being. Witnessing the emergence of numerous nymphs from the ootheca is a testament to nature’s wonders.

Nurturing Pseudempusa pinnapavonis is an adventure that allows you to be part of their incredible story, a journey of awe and admiration for the resilience of these remarkable creatures.

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