- Oct 21, 2012
- Reaction score
- Southern Ontario, Canada
Mesopteryx alata (Taiwan Giant Grass Mantis)Introduction:
Origin of my individuals: Yen Saw at L3
Scientific name: Mesopteryx alata
Common name: (not official) Taiwan Giant Grass Mantis.
Natural Habitat: islands southeast of Taiwan
Mesopteryx are one of my favorite species so far. They grow large even at an early stage, their colourizations are mesmerizing, and they are very inquisitive and active which makes them a joy to handle. This species is relatively new to North American culture, and there aren’t many documented methods of keeping them, so I’ve recorded below how I’ve kept mine.
Mesopteryx at a young age are all the golden brown of fields of grass and wheat. The colours flow together really nicely, and I love to watch them. Later on in life the males become similar colours as Tenodera sinensis, darkening their browns and having a green stripe on the wings. Females at adulthood are a bright green colour and appear to have a blue/pink gloss in the right light. The wings on this species are very short.
- Rate of growth and factors involved
- Molting observations
- Degree of activity
- Degree of aggression or timidity
- Propensity to cannibalize
- Dynamics of threat display
Water: mist once or twice daily.
Temperature: 24-27 degrees Celsius (75-80f), as low as 21C (70f) at night.
L1—L2: [communal, 20L plastic bin] after hatching nymphs in a large 20L plastic bin, I separated a couple of them into 25 oz tupperware enclosures. Others have stayed in the bin, with a plethora of fake plants and branches for perching.
L3-L4: [24 oz. tupperware containers] All nymphs were kept separate from this point on, although I heard they can be kept together until the females are larger than the males around L7. 24 oz tupperware containers from the dollar store. Vented in front and on top, front vent extends nearly from bottom to top, leaving enough plastic to glue the mesh to. Top vent covers half the lid, the other half is used for feeding hole and sponge plug. Popsicle sticks up the walls for vertical climbing, a twig or two along the lid for horizontal hanging, and one diagonal stick from bottom to top opposing corners for transit and perch.
L5—L6: 32oz Deli cups with varying furnishing. Vented in front and top similarly to previous instar’s enclosures. Furnishings range from sticks going top to bottom with small twigs jutting out simulating tree branches, to just sticks top to bottom along part of the wall, to a fake fern frond starting halfway up and curling just under the lid, to simply sanded walls and cardboard for climbing. The sweet spot seems to be something like the fern, more than just sanded walls and cardboard, but less than the simulated branches which get in the way sometimes.
L7—adult: [20x20x30cm or larger] 32oz Deli cups are too small at this point. Its time to think about housing adult sized mantids. They grow approximately 10cm in length, so an enclosure approximately 20x20x30cm or larger is what you should aim for. Furnish similarly as before, placing emphasis on vertical climbing space more than diagonal or horizontal to cater to them being a grass mantis.
L1—L2: Newborn Mesopteryx are able to take melano fruit flies, their small claws relative to body size prevent them from taking hydei however. They start eating about 24 hours after hatching. I placed a producing miniature melano culture into their bin, so that there is a constant food source for them. They get noticeably fatter after eating.
L3—L4: Drosophila hydei. 3-5 each monday/wednesday/friday. Could probably take house flies at L4.
L5—L6: I fed D. hydei at this stage still, because I had no access to house flies. I’d say house flies are small enough to be comfortable taking, but if not available hydei are still an option. I fed about 8-10 hydei each monday/wednesday/friday.
L7: At this point the mantids are capable of taking mealworms and their beetles. The main problem arrises from them being uncomfortable striking hard surfaces like shells. Recently molted mealworms or freshly eclosed beetles, who’s shells are still soft, are ideal. If you have House flies or Blue bottle flies available I believe those would work as well. One beetle will keep them full for 3 or 4 days, so feeding can be kept to once or twice a week.
Adult: Adult Mesopteryx are great hunters. Their small claws have finally reached a size where they are comfortable taking superworms and meal beetles without issue. I use two methods of feeding, sometimes I will release ten or so meal beetles into their enclosure and allow them to hunt at their leisure, which they do. Other times I will tong feed them a superworm. They get a lot fatter than you would think after a good meal. Feed as often as they need, usually 2 times a week or so.
*NOTE on food and feeding: My nymphs had an accelerated growth due to how often I fed them. If you want your nymphs to grow slower and therefore live longer feeding once or twice a week is sufficient.
Females are ready to breed 4 weeks after molting to adult. Males only take 2 weeks to be ready. Its hard to tell when this species is calling because of the length of their abdomens and how low they sometimes hold themselves to their perch. Only a light dip at the tip of the abdomen is visible, along with a standard rhythmic pulsing.
My mesopteryx appeared to prefered breeding late at night, usually around 2 or 3 a.m. The environment in their breeding enclosure was kept around 27C or 82F. Humidity doesn’t need to be that high, mine was around 60 or 70%. Even wind doesn’t seem to be that important, as my males all mounted incredibly quickly before I even started the wind.
After introducing the female, there should be an immediate interest by the male. The female doesn’t even need to be prodded to move before the male jumps onto her back, almost always facing forward from the beginning. The male will flare his wings, I’m not sure if this is to scare away other males, or just to give him more room to move, but after flaring his wings the male will immediately begin reaching around the female with his abdomen.
The biggest problems I had with connection was when they weren’t upside down. When on a vertical wall the male sometimes had trouble connecting, but when upside down connection doesn’t take much time at all. Usually less than a minute. After connecting the pair will stay connected approximately 5 or 6 hours. When they’re done, the males of this species have a very interesting survival trait, instead of walking off one end of the female like other species they will just drop like a rock off the back of the female. They fall out of reach and then flutter to the nearest perch. Its safe at this point to remove the female back to her own enclosure. Males will need a day or two to regain their energy and be ready for another mating.
I had one death as a result of complications from mating. One of my females didn’t eject the spermatophore as usual, and a day later had developed an infection centering around the open ovipositor. The female died less than 2 days after mating. I don’t know what specifically caused this, maybe the female had an issue developing her sexual organs and had issues with ejecting and closing the ovipositor, or maybe it was the male at fault. Either way be careful as problems can arise when breeding.
I mated 3 different females, one brown female mated 3 times, and 2 green females mated twice each. The brown female laid a very messy first ooth, and died shortly after of unknown cause. Both green females have laid multiple ooths, all of which are a very clean dome shape, and proven to be fertile. They lay every 8 or 9 days or so. The average hatch is around 60-70 nymphs for me so far.
- Health Issues: infections or illnesses encountered.
- Additional Observations: pertinent information which doesn't neatly fit anywhere else.
- Photos: up to five may be posted at the bottom of the completed template. Please limit these photos to no more than one of an ootheca, two of nymphs(different instars), one of an adult female, and one of an adult male.
Contributors: jamurfjr, Malakyoma
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