Black Eyes and Possible Abdomen Collapse: Two Chinese Mantis Nymphs, a Case Study

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MantisTrainer

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Hello Everyone,
This is MantisTrainer. For the past couple of months, I've been trying to raise two Chinese mantis nymphs. One of them died a couple of weeks ago, in spite of my best efforts. The second one is still alive, and I'm trying to keep it that way. Here's what happened with the first one (and I will be attaching pictures for reference):
1. Back in August, one of my mantises fell during a molt, but was able to scamper out of the old exoskeleton with no harm that I could see at the time. The day after it molted, I noticed that its abdomen was very flat and had an odd arch to it. A couple of weeks later, one of the same mantis' eyes had turned silvery-black. Along with this, it became more timid with eating and would just stare at and not eat her food (fruit flies). Soon, it became very weak. I tried to feed it a honey-peanut butter solution, but it refused. A few hours later, it died.
2. The second mantis, which is still alive, has started exhibiting the same eye problem, but has not, as yet, had the same odd abdomen shape. It doesn't seem to be able to hunt fruit flies on its own (like the first one), so I've hand-fed it mealworms (parts) and a honey/pollen solution.
Has anyone ever seen this kind of thing before? What kind of problem could this be? And is there any way to treat it?
Thanks so much! Attaching pictures of the one that died, and the one that is still alive.
Best!
MantisTrainer
 

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I see dents in the eyes of the one that died - to me it looks like they must have been damaged when it fell. The blackness might have been hemolymph clotting in the eyes, which understandably is often fatal.

The eyes are always that color on the survivor, rather than changing with light levels right? It's hard for me to tell from these photos, but it looks like it has a crescent-shaped line on its left eye which makes me wonder if it also has a mechanical injury. If it does, survival's going to be an uphill battle. Regardless though, that one is at the age where it should be on bigger food than fruit flies.
 
Thank you for the feedback. The survivor seems to be doing well, it molted on Friday and seems to be very active. I gave it some more honey water today, the blackness hasn't seemed to get any better or worse. I tried to feed it a small mealworm but it was without success. The smallest mealworms I can find are still too big for the little guy but I can't seem to get a hold of any food that is the right size for it(my parents won't accept cockroaches) I'm concerned about the idea of catching insects in the wild for it. my household doesn't use pesticides but I'm not sure about anyone else in the neighborhood. does anyone have some advice?
 
Thank you for the feedback. The survivor seems to be doing well, it molted on Friday and seems to be very active. I gave it some more honey water today, the blackness hasn't seemed to get any better or worse. I tried to feed it a small mealworm but it was without success. The smallest mealworms I can find are still too big for the little guy but I can't seem to get a hold of any food that is the right size for it(my parents won't accept cockroaches) I'm concerned about the idea of catching insects in the wild for it. my household doesn't use pesticides but I'm not sure about anyone else in the neighborhood. does anyone have some advice?
You could try cutting a mealworm in half and holding it up for it to eat! You'll probably have to wiggle it so it looks alive for the mantis to take it.
 
Thank you for the feedback. The survivor seems to be doing well, it molted on Friday and seems to be very active. I gave it some more honey water today, the blackness hasn't seemed to get any better or worse. I tried to feed it a small mealworm but it was without success. The smallest mealworms I can find are still too big for the little guy but I can't seem to get a hold of any food that is the right size for it(my parents won't accept cockroaches) I'm concerned about the idea of catching insects in the wild for it. my household doesn't use pesticides but I'm not sure about anyone else in the neighborhood. does anyone have some advice?
Pesticide risk from wild-caught prey is extremely small in most places. If wild moths, flies, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, etc are behaving normally, and the area is not littered with dead/dying insects as if it's been recently sprayed, then you won't see any consequences from wild-caught food. I've been feeding a significant proportion of wc prey for 20 years of keeping, across three states.

What, and how often, have these mantises been eating? This could be a malnutrition issue.
 
Chinese mantids are more difficult to rear than most of the common pet species and finicky on molting surfaces.
 
I believe that the ab's do this when the container they are in when 4th instar on up is to small.
Ugh.

I was suspecting this was part of one of our mis-forms. This year, we're raising 5 Mantises (1 Rhombedera Kirbyi and 4 Chinese). 1 male (Maize n' blue) had a mis-molt from L7-L8. I was able to help him back up, although not in time, to where his wings were pretty mangled, but worse yet, his rear legs were bowed out making his getting around quite difficult. He falls a lot, but thankfully can still catch prey (small-medium sized moths).

The mantis in question and the most disappointing would be Green Bean, a male Chinese that we raised from the 4th instar to L8. Upon molting to L8, everything was almost perfect (we were able to watch the whole time), but as his abdomen straightened out and wings pumped out fully, he decided he wanted to hang upside down like mantises normally do in their terrariums. A very visible crease started to form at the beginning of his abdomen before he fully hardened. We tried to gently coax him to hang sideways on a branch a couple times, but he insisted on climbing back up to the mesh and invert himself, causing the crease to permanently form.

He eats and catches prey just fine, but I can't imagine it being very comfortable to pass and digest food. What's most alarming, is it doesn't look like he's pooped in several days :(
 
Pesticide risk from wild-caught prey is extremely small in most places. If wild moths, flies, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, etc are behaving normally, and the area is not littered with dead/dying insects as if it's been recently sprayed, then you won't see any consequences from wild-caught food. I've been feeding a significant proportion of wc prey for 20 years of keeping, across three states.

What, and how often, have these mantises been eating? This could be a malnutrition issue.
ever since I noticed the black eye and odd feeding behavior, I haven't fed him much other than honey water. But as of his last molt (September 14), I have fed him two green bottle flies caught in my backyard and given him some honey water on occasion. I will try to feed him every 1-2 days from now on. Also, I think he is able to catch most prey on his own now as long as it's big enough for him to see up close.
 
Chinese mantids are more difficult to rear than most of the common pet species and finicky on molting surfaces.
Thank you, I didn't know this until after I had gotten the egg case because most websites I looked at said that Chinese mantises are easy to care for and a great species for beginners, it was only until I looked at the care guide on this forum that I realized just how difficult keeping this species can be.
How easy do you think it would be to raise a European mantis? I'm considering getting an ootheca or a couple of live individuals next spring, but I couldn't find any reliable care guides on the internet, MantidForum doesn't even have one for this species.
 
Thank you, I didn't know this until after I had gotten the egg case because most websites I looked at said that Chinese mantises are easy to care for and a great species for beginners, it was only until I looked at the care guide on this forum that I realized just how difficult keeping this species can be.
How easy do you think it would be to raise a European mantis? I'm considering getting an ootheca or a couple of live individuals next spring, but I couldn't find any reliable care guides on the internet, MantidForum doesn't even have one for this species.
European mantids are usually easier, mostly because they are shorter and aren't so prone to molting problems. Carolina and California spp. Stagmomantis are even easier. There's a section in here if you have ithttps://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Praying-Mantis-Mantodean-Reproduction/dp/1616461667?ref_=ast_author_dp
 
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