Why is my mantid sick / ill / injured / mismolting / dead?

  • Water: Are you using only distilled, filtered or spring water? Tap water contains fluoride, chlorine, and other components that can cause sickness or death in mantid.
  • Temperature: Is your temperature too high/low? A sudden drop or increase of 10 degrees or more can cause sickness. Some mantid are more tolerant to temperature fluctuations. Make sure the temperature inside their enclosure is appropriate for their species.
  • Humidity: Is your humidity too high/low? Humidity too high can lead to a bacterial or fungal infection. Make sure you let enclosure dry before re-wetting. Humidity too low/high is one of the leading causes of miss-molts in captivity. Winter heating may make enclosure(s) more arid than usual.
  • Mold: Is there mold in your enclosure? This can cause sickness and may cause death. Feeder insects remnant will mold quickly and need to be removed often. Use UV light for sterilization of air.
  • Thirst: Is there water drops for it to drink? Mantid get thirsty and need water to drink. Make sure there are appropriate sized water droplets in enclosure where mantid can drink them, or give your mantid water via dropper. Water droplets too big from nymph can drown mantid.
  • Hunger: How often do you feed your mantid? Too often or not enough? L1’s need food once every 48 hrs, once separated you can start to expand that time frame slowly if you like. Feeding once every 2-4 days is fine. A older well fed mantid can go up to 7-14 days (14-30 in extreme cases) without food. Starving a mantid will result in death.
  • Feeder Insects: What are you feeding your mantid? Do NOT feed them ants, stink bugs, earthworms, or any poisonous insects. Mantid are as healthy as the insects you feed it.
  • Food Chain: What do you feed your feeder insects? Do you change out their media often and make sure no mold is growing? If you feed sickly insects to mantid, they may become sick themselves.
  • Wild Caught Feeders: Do you collect insects from outside? They may contain pesticide/insecticide, nematodes, or other parasites.
  • Cannibalism: Are your mantid communal? Regardless if they are communal species, there is always a chance for injury or death by another mantid. 
  • Explosion: How much did you feed your mantid in one sitting? Some mantid are very aggressive and will eat themselves to the point of rupturing their abdomen.
  • Vomiting: What is my mantid vomiting? If it’s clear, it’s usually just excess water. If it is red tinted, it’s usually a mantid who has been over fed fruit flies. If it’s brown and chunky, it’s usually a bad feeder insect. If it’s black and smells acidic, it may be a bacterial or fungal infection. If it’s black and coming from both ends, it’s usually black death from a bad feeder insect.
  • Frass: Is your mantid passing it’s food? Some feeders can slow down the metabolism, for example superworm,waxworm. Others speed it up, for example flies. Some mantid need the “roughage” of flies to correctly pass food. A blockage of the anus or digestive system will result in death.
  • Prolapse Anus: sometimes the mantid’s digestive system pushes too hard and it protrudes out. Limit meal size. Keep enclosure humid. Hopefully it fixes itself in a molt.
  • Urine: Can mantid urinate? Mantid can pass excess water via anus in a jet fashion. Or via mouth.
  • Burp: Sometimes a mantid will drink too much and burp up a big bubble of water. They will either try to wipe it off by rubbing face on closest surface or drink it back up.
  • Mismolt: Why did my mantid mismolt? Usually due the lack of proper gripping material, too much/not enough heat, too much/not enough humidity, leaving unwanted live feeders inside enclosure, in communal enclosures-other mantid, pre-molt injuries, weak gene pool, moving/opening enclosure while mantis is molting, lamp to close to enclosure, flash photography and other variables. Sometimes it’s just nature and there’s no way to avoid it. Usually there is a higher number of random mismolt/die-off in nymphs ages L1-L3.
  • Eye Rub: Why does my mantid’s eye/s look weird? Has your mantid rubbed its face against the enclosure to the point where there is a black mark, divet or can NOT see anymore? There is nothing you can do for your mantid after the fact. It is best to avoid it in the first place. Avoid eye rub by making sure your mantid can’t see other mantid  through its enclosure. Make dividers if necessary. Make sure its enclosure is big enough for that species, and feed the mantid on a set schedule. Move mantid to a net or soft enclosure if you catch it early.
  • Mites: Is your grains infested with mites? A common problem in the hobby but it not life threatening. Grain mites eat grains, remove grains from your media to starve out mites. Also raise acidic level of media to help eliminate mites. Place fruit fly cultures in a tub of soapy (breaks water surface tension) water to keep them from spreading elsewhere. Mites can be killed with warm/hot soap water. Keep grains in freezer for 3-5+ days before use to kill mite eggs. Mites can be transferred to mantid via feeder insect. Usually they will lose these attached mites with their next molt. If infestation is very bad it is possible that mantid is so covered by them that it can not move its mandible or palpaes to eat, this can result in death but it extremely rare (only read of one such case). Replace grains once a month to drastically reduce chances of infestation.
  • Mating/Breeding: Males will be cannibalized by the females before/during/after copulation 40-80% of the time depending on species. Sometimes a female can injury the male. Depending on how bad it is, the male may die within a day or two from a severe puncture. Also vise versa is true, sometimes the male is too aggressive and injures the female. Mating/Breeding is a gamble, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Egg bound :  My female is fertile but will not lay an ooth, what’s wrong? Sometimes fertile females can become egg bound (aka ooth-bound). This just means she is unable to lay ootheca. This may be due to humidity, temperature, feeding schedule or other variables and can result in death. Make sure to follow any specific instructions for that particular species. Giving adult females water to drink via medicine dropper/syringe every day reduces the chance of egg bound females. Also make sure humidity is on higher side of the range for that species. Switch to flying feeders (i.e.: moths & flies)
  • Tape or Velcro:  Did you use tape or Velcro inside mantis enclosure? Even just the smallest amount can be lethal for nymphs. Even larger mantid can get stuck and cause it injury or death. It’s best not to use either.
  • Amputation: leave as last resort. Usually a mantis will self amputate if need be. Unless it’s causing problems with mobility, leave it be. If you have to, snip with sharp scissors at next highest joint while mantis is distracted with food. Be mindful what you are cutting, make sure you’ll have clear-cut before you start.
  • My mantis is not eating, what’s wrong?: has mantis ate within 1-4 days? Mantis may be full. Is mantis close to molt? They sometimes don’t eat for up to a week before molting. Is mantis running away from feeder? Feeder may be too large. Is mantis due to lay ooth? She may refuse food up to a week before laying.
  • Email me photo or video of emergency and I will help on a case by case basis. 

What to do for a sick mantis:

If your mantis becomes sick due to bad food or has an infection…

  1. Remove ill mantis from other mantid. Place into separate sterile enclosure with paper towels on substrate.
  2. Give mantis diluted honey mixture (1 part honey 5-9 part distilled water) either dipped on skewer or dipped on feeder. Honey has natural anti-septic, antibacterial and other beneficial properties to help your mantis get well.
  3. Give the mantis plenty of fluids. You can give mantis water via dropper directly. Make sure you only use distilled, filtered, spring water, or well water. If you are not sure of the ailment, it’s best to remove variables (such as water impurities).
  4. Make sure to get rid of tainted feeders insects. Change out feeder’s media often to avoid problems with feeders.
  5. Clean mantis’ regular enclosure thoroughly to reduce risk of reinfection.
  6. Make sure mantis is getting the proper ventilation, temperature, humidity, has a set feeding schedule, has access to drinking water, and anything else needed for that particular species.
  7. If you’re religious or a mantis, pray.