Wandering Violin Mantis Caresheet
The Wandering Violin (Gongylus gongylodes) should be kept in an enclosure that is at least 3 times as tall as the mantis is long, and at least 2 times as wide as the mantis is long. Females can get up to 4.5 inches long as adults, while males get around 3 to 4 inches long. The cage must also have extra heat, adequate ventilation, and some kind of material on the ceiling of the enclosure which will allow the mantis to hang upside down during molting, as well as an empty space at the top which is at least 2 times the size of the mantis.
Because violin mantises are Empusids, they cannot climb smooth surfaces and should be kept in mesh or screen cages with plenty of sticks on which to climb. For this reason, living vivariums are not a practical option for them. They should be given a simple enclosure with fake plants, lots of branches on which to climb, and no substrate. We recommend just using a paper towel at the bottom for easy clean-up, which you can change once a week. You could even add a live, potted plant in the cage, but definitely skip the fully planted terrarium setup for these guys.
Temperature & Humidity
Wandering Violins need heat! The ideal temperature for them is 95F, but they can be safely kept between 85°F and 104°F, and should have at least 30% relative humidity (RH). To take care of their temperature requirements, you should purchase a heat lamp or a reptile heat emitter before purchasing this mantis. Hang it above the enclosure, at least 1 inch away from the top of the cage.
The enclosure should be misted at least once a day so they can drink. When kept in mesh or screen cages, we mist their enclosures twice a day. Since this species requires a heat lamp, humidity can drop extremely low very quickly in the enclosure, without misting at least once a day. Low humidity causes mismolts, so keep this in mind. Most mantises do not like getting sprayed directly, so it is best to try and spray around the mantis, but if you get them a little wet by accident, it is usually no big deal. Use spring water, distilled water, or water filtered by reverse osmosis (RO), but do not use plain tap water.
The Wandering Violin mantis should be fed flying prey throughout their entire lives, they will not chase after food at all. They only eat when something flies right by them, grabbing the fly right out of midair! Most tend to completely ignore crickets and other crawling prey, unless the prey insect crawls right by them and they are VERY hungry. These mantises can be fed only blue bottle flies throughout their entire adult lives and remain perfectly healthy and happy.
- L1 nymphs: Should be fed D. melanogaster fruit flies.
- L2 and L3 nymphs: Should be fed D. hydei fruit flies.
- L4 and L5 nymphs: Should be fed house flies, or blue bottle flies.
- L6 nymph to adult: Should be fed blue bottle flies.
Wandering violins should be fed every day or every other day. Only put as many flies in the enclosure at once, as the mantis will eat in one sitting. They can get very stressed out by too many flies buzzing around them when they are not hungry.
For additional information about the Wandering Violin mantis, including breeding and ootheca care, please reference the links below:
Wandering Violin Mantis (Gongylus gongylodes) Caresheet – Keeping Insects
Wandering Violin Mantis (Gongylus gongylodes) Caresheet – Mantid Forum