The genus Metallyticus reviewed (Insecta: Mantodea)
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Species: Deroplatys Desicata
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DEROPLATYS DESICCATA PRAYING MANTIS
Deroplatys desiccata, known by the common names giant dead leaf mantis and Malaysian dead leaf mantis, is a species of praying mantis from Southeast Asia. D. desiccata inhabits scrubland and forests in Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Sumatra.
D. desiccata takes its common name from its resemblance to dead, leafy vegetation including having a flattened, greatly extended thorax and "intricate leaf patterns" on its wings. This insect varies in color from mottled brown through "pale orangey brown" to a very dark brown that is almost black.
This creature's camouflage is aided by its movements as well as its appearance. When disturbed, it rocks gently as if caught in the breeze. When threatened, it typically falls to the ground and lies motionless. It can also react with a threatening display consisting of "black underwings splayed out, with large eyespots, frightening away unsuspecting predators."
As its common name indicates, D. desiccata is larger than other species of Dead Leaf Mantis. Females grow to 75-80mm long. Displaying the sexual dimorphism typical of mantises, males grow only 65-70mm long and are substantially smaller and lighter than females. Females prothorax shields end in a sharp pointed curve on each side while the males have a rounder shape. According to one source, males tend to be more "yellowish" than the darker females.
Like most mantises, this species has little or no food preferences as long as the prey is the right size, but one source does observe that they "especially love flying insects like moths.
Behavior of the Dead Leaf Mantis
Deroplatys desiccata is a pretty docile species of praying mantis. They can be easily scared by large prey or the hand of their owner, making them run away franticly or display a death feigning behavior (play dead). During this display the mantis will lie motionless on the floor, legs folded or stretched out. They do not move even when you touch them. Sometimes they suddenly get up and start running away. When adult, Deroplatys desiccata can also display its wings when threatened. This is called a deimatic display, designed to scare off predators. The mantis shows its front wings that have a large black spot on them, and it shows the hind wings that have black and white stripes on them. When the wings are raised suddenly, these colors become visible and can scare away predators such as birds. During the deimatic display the mantis will also raise its forelegs to show a red area with bright black and white stripes (zebra pattern).
Breeding Deroplatys desiccata
When adult, the differences between males and females are not to be missed. The male is long and slender, while the female is broad and bulky. She has a huge shield on the prothorax, while the male has a small shield. For nymphs you can use the sexing method of counting the number of segments on the abdomen.
Approximately 2 to 4 weeks after both partners reach adulthood, a mating attempt can be made. Make sure that the female has eaten a lot in the days before the mating attempt. The female can be quite aggressive to the male, so if you see excessive aggression you have to remove the male and try again later. Try to minimize disturbance. Mating can take several hours, when the male leaves the back of the female he must be removed from the enclosure to keep him alive.
In captivity D. desiccata is one of many mantids that can be kept as pets. In captivity, the diet of nymphs often consists of flightless fruit flies, pinhead crickets, and other small insects. Adults are fed crickets, moths, flies, flour worms, and other large insects. In order to survive outside the tropics, D. desiccata requires high levels of heat and humidity similar to that of its native habitat in Southeast Asia, between 75 - 90 F (24 - 32 C), and more than 75% humidity. Males go through 8 molts while females go through 9.