How Often Do Praying Mantis Molt?

Molting is a crucial stage in praying mantis’ lifespan because it allows them to grow and get bigger. Its frequency varies among insects of different species and living in varying conditions. A few take longer and more molts to become adults than others due to various reasons.

How Often Do Praying Mantis Molt? Praying mantis molt almost 7 to 9 timesbut it can increase up to 10 times. Temperature, humidity, age, species, physical health, nutritional status, and reproductive state also affect the molting frequency and time. Due to size differences, their females molt more frequently than males, and each stage lasts 20 to 25 minutes.

It is a challenging stage of their life when they have to shed their old exoskeleton and replace it with a new one. They have to pass through pain and stress many times in their lifespan until they attain a maximum body size. Some become adults after a few larval instars, while others undergo more larval instars.

How many times will a praying mantis molt?

They molt several times in their lifespan and get a new outer shell on their bodies. They shed old shells because shells restrict their growth due to their hard structure.

Accordingly, they remove an older exoskeleton at different times of the year and build a new protective covering on their bodies. They undergo molting for almost 7 to 9 times.

This frequency is commonly observed among praying mantis but can change among insects of different species and sizes.

A few species can complete their growth in only 5 to 7 larval instars, while others need almost 8 to 10 stages to turn into adults.

Another molting stage is followed by a gap of approximately 10 to 15 days. Their shells harden after growth and get removed after some time.

In addition, it usually occurs in the initial developmental stages of the nymphs until they reach adulthood. They keep shedding exoskeletons until they are fully grown.

A few of them get ideal living conditions and grow earlier than others, so they need only 7 to 8 stages.

However, unfavorable conditions lead to slow growth, requiring more molting stages to develop into adults.

So, its frequency varies according to biological and environmental conditions, their health, and the time of year.

What factors determine the molting frequency in praying mantis?

The molting frequency in praying mantis depends on external temperature, humidity, age, physical health, reproductive state, and nutritional status.


The external temperature determines their molting frequency, as they need a warm environment to shed their skeleton.

Praying mantis face problems shedding the exoskeleton layer during cold months, so they reach adulthood and mate before winter.

Moreover, they usually start shedding after winter when eggs hatch into nymphs. These nymphs need mild weather or a warmer environment to initiate shell-shedding.

They can efficiently shed hard covering on the skin at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they slowly remove the shell when they do not get enough warmth.


Dry conditions do not favor molting because removing the exoskeleton in a dry environment is challenging. They need moisture to get rid of the older exoskeleton from their bodies.

They quickly shed and grow new exoskeleton layers when external conditions are humid. The moisture helps prevent injuries while shedding the outer layer of skin.

Additionally, they need around 60% to 70% humidity in an external environment to initiate the molting process. Its frequency reduces if they do not get enough moisture.

In the same way, high moisture content allows these carnivorous insects to shed their outer skeleton more frequently than those living in dry habitats.

Age and species

The developmental stage or age of a praying mantis directly impacts their shedding. They molt frequently at first 2 or 3 instars because they grow rapidly in the early stages.

There is a little gap between every larval instar stage in the early developmental stages, but this frequency goes on reducing over time.

Moreover, its frequency decreases or completely diminishes as it ages because they do not shed exoskeleton after full growth.

In the same way, their species also matters as a few mantis undergo more shedding than others due to differences in size and habitat.

Physical health

Physical health influences molting frequency in praying mantis because injured insects do not prefer to go through the painful process.

They avoid the replacement of the exoskeleton when they are not feeling well because they have to deal with a lot of stress during this process. So, they prefer to wait until they get physically fit.

Poor health leads to disturbance in hormone levels that can cause delays in the molting. It can also lead to irregular patterns of exoskeleton shedding in the sick mantis.

Nutritional status

Nutritional deficiencies influence their shedding process by delaying or making it less frequent. Lack of nutrition disrupts the shedding or makes it incomplete.

They need a balanced diet for successful molting, and the absence of essential nutrients affects the successful completion, leading to abnormalities.

My friend told me his pet mantis was weak and took a lot of time to shed the old shell and get the new one.

Reproductive state

Their reproductive state affects their molting potential as they prefer not to remove shells in the breeding season. The receptive females avoid shedding shells until they lay eggs.

It requires significant energy to lay eggs and replace the old shells. So, they prefer to allocate all energy reserves and efforts toward reproduction instead of growth.

Accordingly, they usually delay the molting process and conserve the energy to use for laying eggs and protecting them inside the ootheca.

The female mantis delays the process because she needs energy to hunt prey during mating seasons. She cannot survive without hunting prey and nourishing the eggs with food.

How long does a praying mantis take to molt?

The molting duration varies among praying mantis belonging to different species or genders because they live in different conditions.

Generally, they take around 20 to 25 minutes to complete one molting stage, depending on external conditions and physical health.

Healthy and well-fed mantis usually shed their shells in 15 to 20 minutes, while it can take around 25 minutes at maximum if they are not physically fit.

In contrast, the time can increase to half an hour if they do not have ideal living conditions. Lack of humidity and changes in temperature increase the time.

They face problems replacing their exoskeleton when the conditions are dry and cold. They need a warmer climate to grow without any stress and pain.

The female praying mantis are bigger, so they take more time to shed their outer covering. Similarly, they molt more frequently than males due to size differences.

In contrast, their male partners complete their development in only 7 to 9 larval instars because they do not grow beyond a specific body length.

Furthermore, the last stage takes longer than the initial stages because the immature nymphs inflate their wings in the last stage. It takes more time to harden new shells during the final stage.

The hardening process takes a few days in adults, while the new exoskeleton of the baby nymphs gets hard in only a day.

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