The Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) is a species of praying mantis. Originating from China, they were first introduced to North America around 1895 as a source of pest control. Since then, the species has spread throughout much of southern New England, and the Northeast United States, and ootheca can be purchased from plant nurseries nationwide. This species is often erroneously given the taxonomic name of Tenodera aridifolia sinensis; when first classified, T. sinensis was a subspecies of T. aridifolia but T. sinensis is a species now.
Their diet consists primarily of other insects, though adult females can sometimes take down small vertebrate prey such as reptiles and amphibians (some have also been documented preying on hummingbirds). Like some other mantids, they are known to be cannibalistic.
The Chinese Mantis looks like a long and slender praying mantis, that are brown and green. It is typically larger than most other praying mantises, adult females are about 8 centimeters in length, and is the largest mantis species in North America. Their color can vary from overall green to brown with a green lateral stripe on the edge of the front wings. In low light the eyes of the mantis appear black, but in daylight appear to be clear, matching the color of the head. Chinese Mantids are slightly different in color and are usually larger than Tenodera aridifolia angustipennis which were introduced to the United States of America as well. One way of telling Tenodera sinensis and Tenodera aridifolia angustipennis apart is by looking at the spot in between their front legs. If it is yellow then it is a Chinese Mantis but if it is orange then it is a Narrow-winged Mantis.
The female can produce several spherical ootheca roughly the size of a table tennis ball, containing up to 400 eggs. The oothecae are often affixed to vegetation such as bushes and small trees, as seen in the image below.
Chinese Mantids are a common pet for mantis enthusiasts.
The Chinese Mantis should be kept in a terrarium roughly 3x its body size. The Chinese Mantis is an aggressive carnivore that will tackle and eat large insects. The Chinese Mantis' diet consists primarily of cockroaches, moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, crickets and spiders. At the first instar, Chinese Mantids will eat Drosophila melanogaster and similar small flies. As they grow larger, Mantids will accept House Flies, Blue Bottle Flies and small roaches.
Mantids drink dew from leaves, so a gentle misting every other day is required. In the terrarium, Mantids require sticks and other foliage for climbing and molting. Mantids will thrive in temperatures ranging from 68 to 100°F. Sudden temperature changes may be fatal.
Although formidable, the Chinese Mantis is sometimes preyed upon by birds and the Asian Giant Hornet in its native range. The hornets possess a very large, very powerful pincer-like mouth and a poisonous sting, both of which can be lethal to the mantis. The Chinese Mantis tries to avoid them by blending in well in the tall grass or shrubs. However, taking a large Chinese mantis does not come without risks.
Developed in the Shandong province of China in the mid-1600s, Praying Mantis kung-fu is based on the quick movements and techniques of the Chinese mantis. An unrelated style of kung fu that was developed by the Hakka people in Southern China is known as Southern Praying Mantis.
Adult female Tenodera sinensis from front
Adult female Tenodera sinensis from side
Tenodera sinensis ootheca
Sub-adult or close to sub-adult Tenodera sinensis
Adult female Tenodera sinensis on arm
Underside of an adult female Tenodera sinensis several weeks after molting to adult
- List of mantis genera and species
- Northern Praying Mantis (martial art), a Chinese martial arts style based around the movements of a Mantis.
- Southern Praying Mantis (martial art), a southern Chinese martial arts style developed by the Hakka people, and unrelated to the northern Chinese martial art style of Northern Praying Mantis.
- Ehrmann, R. 2002. Mantodea: Gottesanbeterinnen der Welt. Natur und Tier, Münster