The Wandering Violin mantis (Gongylus gongylodes) is rarely offered in the hobby, and is a truly beautiful mantis with awesome camouflage! They have leaf-like protrusions on their bodies, as well as leaf-like lobes on their legs, complete with an extremely long, thin neck that resembles a stick. They get their nickname from how closely the adults resemble a violin. They mostly come in shades of pale gold to dark brown, but when kept in an environment with higher humidity levels, they can start to take on more greenish shades.
These mantises are native to India, so they like it hot. The most important thing you need to know about adopting this species is that they MUST BE provided with an additional heat source to thrive. At bare minimum, you should use a desk lamp with a 60 Watt incandescent bulb to heat their enclosure. They also do well with reptile heat lamps or heat emitters. Their enclosures should be kept between 85°F and 104°F, and should have at least 30% relative humidity (RH) at all times. They also MUST BE kept in either a mesh or screen cage, with plenty of sticks on which to climb, because they are Empusids and cannot climb smooth surfaces. Lastly, they MUST BE fed fruit flies through L3 or flying prey through later instars, as they will not chase after most crawling prey, and crickets are bad for their health. Because of these requirements, they are for intermediate or advance mantis keepers only, and are not a good choice for people just starting out in the hobby.
They are a great communal species, and if you have the room (as they are a fairly large species as adults), they are one of the most rewarding of species to keep in a colony! They are also extremely active, friendly, and easy to handle, and their bizarre “robotic” movements are a joy to observe from within their enclosure as well!