Dead Leaf Mantis


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Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Superorder: Dictyoptera

Order: Mantodea

Family: Mantidae

Subfamily: Deroplatyinae

Tribe: Deroplatyini

Genus: Deroplatys

Species: Deroplatys lobata

Synonyms: Deroplatys brunneri


Phylogenetic systems of
Mantodea (Dictyoptera)


Deroplatys lobata, common name Malaysian dead leaf mantis or dead leaf mantis, is a species of praying mantis that inhabits Thailand, Java, Borneo, Indonesia, Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Deroplatys lobata live on the ground around dead leaves and bushes in damp areas, tropical rainforests.


This mantis mimics dead leaves. Females are about 65 to 70mm in length and males are about 45mm in length. 1st instar nymphs are up to 15mm in length and 2nd instar nymphs are about 21mm in length when their abdomens are expanded. Their coloring ranges from dark gray to light mottled gray. They also possess a broad prothorax that looks ripped and crumpled like a leaf. Females have a wider shield than males as early as the 4th instar stage. Males have a slender body and a diamond shape shield.

Sexual Dimorphism

Due to sexual dimorphism typical of mantises, the male is much smaller. Adult females are about 65mm to 70mm in length while adult males are about 45mm in length. 3rd instar nymphs cannot be sexed by counting the segments on the bottom of the abdomen because unlike most praying mantises 8 segments are visible in all of the 3rd instar nymphs and this is also true when they are in the 1st, 2nd instar stage and their leaf shapes look just about the same at those stages. 4th instar nymph and up their leaf shapes look different from each other and get more different from each other with each molt. 6 segments are seen on females while 8 segments are seen on males at the 4th instar and up.

In Captivity

Deroplatys lobata are commonly kept in captivity. Three other species in the genus Deroplatys are kept in captivity, Deroplatys desiccata, Deroplatys truncata and Deroplatys trigonodera.


Nymphs are skittish but at the 1st instar they are calm and are not able to move quickly like most praying mantises. After the 2nd instar they start to get skittish. Nymphs are known to play dead. If startled sometimes nymphs will jump up into the air and fall face up or down to the ground with their legs pulled in. Adults and nymphs are known to do a threat pose when startled. Deroplatys lobata are aggressive toward each other and they will sometimes eat each other so they should not be kept together in captivity. Younger nymphs are not very aggressive toward each other so can be kept together and there will rarely be any cannibalism if they are fed enough. From the 1st instar to adult they often threaten each other by doing a threat pose and striking to scare off the other mantis. After laying the ootheca the female sits on her ootheca to defend it.


These mantids need a very humid environment. Misting them heavily directly onto the mantis every evening works well. To keep the humidity up, substrate like moist sphagnum moss can be added but is not needed. Deroplatys lobata do well when the temperature is not below 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Sudden changes in temperature may kill the mantis. If kept warmer praying mantises will grow faster and live a shorter life but if kept cooler then they grow slower and live a longer life. When kept warmer it speeds up their metabolism and when kept cooler it slows down their metabolism and this is true for all praying mantises. To molt Deroplatys lobata need a rough superior support, like a piece of rough bark or a rough stick at a diagonal angle or attached to the top of the container so that the nymph will hang upside down which is needed to molt. Their cage should be well ventilated with twigs for the mantis to perch on. They don't require much room as they are not active predators, but they do need room to molt. A good sized container for Deroplatys lobata in width and height is usually 3x the length of the mantis, but for young nymphs (1st to 2nd instar nymphs) a 16oz container is good. During molting, it is vital that you do not disturb them. Also, make sure that the humidity is at a safe level because too much humidity can hinder the insect from drying out correctly and it might end up with bent legs and crippled arms.


They will eat just about anything that is the right size. Start feeding the nymphs 1 or 2 days after hatching. 1st instar nymphs get up to 15mm long when their abdomens are expanded so they can tackle and eat large prey. 1st instar nymphs can eat Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies and Drosophila hydei fruit flies and house flies but they could eat things much larger such as small roaches and crickets as well as small moths, et cetera.


Mating this large species is not easy. They usually get too stressed up when kept in a small cage, and if the temperature is too low, then they ignore each other completely. Mate the female as early as 4 weeks after molting to adult. Mate the male as early as 2 weeks. Females molt 8 times and males molt 6 times to become adult. About 3-4 weeks after mating, the female will make her first ootheca. This species can lay around 4-6 oothecae with a period of 4-6 weeks in between each ootheca. After 6 weeks of incubation at 30 C (86 F) and 70-80% humidity. Normal oothecae usually hatch out about 50 large nymphs and Deroplatys lobata Oothecae are usually about 35 to 40mm in length.