Devil’s Flower Mantis Facts: The Stunning Camouflaged Hunters

Imagine a flower that’s not only beautiful but deadly. Meet the Devil’s Flower Mantis, a master of disguise that lures unsuspecting insects to their demise with its captivating appearance. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating facts about this unique predator, exploring its hunting techniques, captivating appearance, and unique adaptations.

Devil’s Flower Mantis
Scientific name: Idolomantis diabolica
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mantodea
Family: Empusidae
Genus: Idolomantis

They are the largest praying mantis

The Devil’s Flower Mantis, aka Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis, exclusive to the genus Idolomantis, is renowned for its significant size, making it one of the largest among approximately 2,400 known praying mantis species. The females have a size of about 5 inches in length and are pretty chunky, while the males are a bit smaller, slimmer, and have big, feathery antennas. Like the pink orchid mantis, this species also has abilities to mimic flowers thanks to its colors and patterns.

This mantis exhibits a fascinating life cycle with different looks. This mantis goes through an interesting change in appearance as it grows. When they’re just born, the baby mantises are shiny black to look like ants, which helps them avoid enemies. As they get older, their color changes to beige or full brown. When they become adults, they turn very colorful, with bright white-and-green stripes and bold red, blue, black, and white colors on the inside of their arms. The Devil’s Flower Mantis usually hides its bright colors. But if it feels scared, it shows these colors to protect itself.

AN adult giant devil's flower mantis

Besides its vibrant coloration, this mantis has special body parts that help it blend in with leaves and plants. It has big arms with spikes and a shield-like part on its back that looks like a leaf, making it hard for enemies to spot.

This mantis species also distinguishes itself with wide raptorial arms adorned with long spikes, signaling danger to its prey, despite being harmless to other creatures.

The camouglage Devil's Flower Mantis
The mantis blends into its environment


It has 5 eyes: two big ones for seeing depth and spotting prey, and three smaller ones that help it sense light and keep stable while flying. The smaller eyes are especially developed in male mantises because they help them fly better when they are looking for a mate. Sadly, because this mantis is so unique and interesting, a lot of people want to have it as an exotic pet, especially in places like North and South America.

Devil’s Flower Mantis Habitat

These insects are found in several countries in Africa, including Uganda, Somalia, Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.

They are quite shy

Despite its impressive appearance, the Devil’s Flower Praying Mantis is actually more timid than you might expect. This mantis gets scared easily and can react by either running around in a panic, showing off its colorful threat display (deimatic display), or crashing into things in its enclosure. If you handle it or just being too close to its enclosure, the insect can stress out. These species are not poisonous or venomous at all.

Like other mantis species, they also sometimes eat their mate.


The Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis showcases a diet strictly carnivorous, with a strong preference for airborne insects. They often eat moths, butterflies, flies, and beetles. Not only the adults but the nymphs also have this kind of diet.

Right after they hatch, the baby mantises (called nymphs) can catch big insects like blue bottle flies. As they get bigger, they also start catching moths, green bottle flies, and even tiny flying bugs like mosquitoes.

These insects are diurnal ambush predators. This means they don’t go and hunt for the prey. All they do is blend into their environments with excellent camouflage, making them invisible to the insects they eat. Then, when an unsuspecting insect flies by, with super quick reflexes and sharp eyesight, they grab it out of the air with their strong front legs.

These mantises have quite a few predators, like birds, frogs, and spiders. To protect themselves, they use a special deimatic display to scare off these predators. This display is designed to intimidate predators through a combination of visual, auditory, and motion cues.

They lift their front legs and spread them apart to show off the bright colors (blue, black, red, and white) on the inside. Then, they wiggle their body and arms side to side to mix up or scare away the enemies. Grown-up mantises may open their wings wide to seem larger and more scary. They can also make sharp clicking and hissing noises by scratching their legs against their wings. You can see their deimatic display on the video below:


Before mating, female Devil’s Flower Mantises get ready to attract males by changing their look. They tilt their bodies downward and lift their wings to show off more of their belly area while giving off a special smell to draw in a mate. Male mantises, which have feathery antennae that are really good at picking up scents, use this ability to find the females.

After mating, the female produces a large number of eggs, sometimes more than 100, inside a foamy mass (oothecae) that acts like a protective bubble to keep the eggs safe from dangers.

When hatching, these nymphs start off orange in color. As they get older, they change color to black and shiny, looking a lot like ants. This clever trick helps them stay safe from animals that might want to eat them.

A brown devil's flower mantis
The young will have a brown color

About ten days later, these nymphs start their first molting. They find hidden places to molt to avoid being eaten while they are weak. They get rid of their black skin and change into a creamy-white color with some special markings. Devil’s Flower Mantises undergo this molting process several times: 7 times for males and 8 times for females. If a mantis loses a limb, it can grow it back during these molts.

With each molt, the nymphs start to look more interesting. They get fancy patterns on their legs and belly, and even a crown-like shape on their head. Their front arms get longer spikes, making it easier to catch their food. Also, the shield on their back, known as the pronotum, gets bigger with each molt. The average lifespan of this Devil’s Flower Mantis is about 12 months.

How to take care

These flower mantises are one of the most popular exotic pets. If you want to keep them as pets, here are some tips that can help:

  • Temperature: Ideal at around 35°C (close to 100°F), can vary between 32°C to 40°C. Lower to 20°C at night. Use light bulbs for heating.
  • Humidity: High air humidity with good air circulation. Ventilate the cage during the day, and close at night. Spray in the evening to increase humidity.
  • Enclosure size: At least 3x the mantis’s length in height and 2x in width. For adults, at least 40 cm in height and 30 cm in width. Larger spaces are preferred to minimize cannibalism risk.
  • Group housing: Cannibalism is minimal, but ensure the enclosure is spacious enough for multiple mantises.
  • Decoration: Provide many sticks and dry leaves for hiding due to their skittish nature.
  • Surface: Provide mesh housing or plenty of rough surfaces and sticks for climbing and molting.



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