Why Does My Praying Mantis Hang Upside Down?

Praying mantis are interesting but strange creatures as they behave in a weird manner. Sometimes you can see them hanging upside down, and they do this because they have a strong grip.

Why Does My Praying Mantis Hang Upside Down? A praying mantis can hang upside down when it is molting, regulating body temperature, or waiting for prey. Molting is a painful process that continues for many hours and occurs 9 to 12 times in their lifespan.

They are masters of camouflage and make impressive strikes to capture prey, but sometimes, they stop moving and stay still on tree branches or cages.

Why do praying mantis hang upside down?

Many people do not know why a praying mantis hangs upside down and assume they are sleeping, but they usually drop their antennae when sleeping.

In addition, it is also assumed that they are dying as symptoms of a dying mantis include changes in body color, loss of appetite, and lack of mobility.

Most commonly, they do not eat or drink when they are hanging upside down and show less movement; that’s why some people consider that they are going to die soon.

However, the main reason for such behavior is molting, when a mantis sheds its older skin or drops off an exoskeleton during growth.

It is a sign that these are passing through several developmental stages and getting closer to adulthood. The first molting stage occurs when immature nymphs are hatched from eggs.

They hang upside down from the tree branch or cage wires on the top of an enclosure and curl their legs during molting. It facilitates quick removal of the exoskeleton and is less painful.

This process starts from the shedding of the exoskeleton from the head region, known as ecdysis, and takes a few hours to days. These insects eat their exoskeleton for nutrition and energy.

Furthermore, it is followed by shedding of the exoskeleton from the thorax and abdomen, which can probably take 10 to 14 days, depending on the size and species of mantis.

However, they can be upside down when waiting for their prey to come closer and blend with the background to protect themselves from predators.

There is a possibility that these insects are regulating their body temperature by getting closer to the ground as cooler air can pass through their bodies.

How often do praying mantis hang upside down?

You can see praying mantis hanging upside down on the tree branches because it is one of their natural behaviors, lasting for a few seconds to a minute.

However, you can see them in this posture for more than a few hours when they are molting because they do not show movements when shedding an outer layer of skin.

Such behavior can be seen almost 7 to 9 times in these insects because they have to pass through almost 9 molting stages during their lifespan.

They have to remove a rigid skeleton covering their body to grow bigger because this outer shell restricts their bodies from expanding in size.

The first molting stage, or L1 (Larval Instar), occurs when the immature nymphs emerge from an ootheca after hatching eggs. This L1 stage is followed by L2, L3, L4, and L9 stages.

The last molting makes them sexually mature when their reproductive organs are adequately developed, and wings appear from the swollen wing buds.

Furthermore, the last stages of molting are pretty painful as their bodies undergo massive changes in physical features, sometimes leading to the death of the praying mantis.

How long does a praying mantis hang upside down?

The total duration for a praying mantis to hang upside down from a vertical surface depends on the molting duration that varies for insects of varying species and sizes.

Moreover, external conditions like the level of humidity and temperature also determine the exact duration of molting, as moist and warm environments can reduce molting time.

It takes almost 20 to 30 minutes at minimum to complete but can take a few hours to days, depending on their ability to shed the outer layer.

They pump air into the abdomen and try to burst the old exoskeleton by pushing it outward with force. The molting begins from the head and is followed by shedding from the legs, thorax, or abdomen.

The young nymphs can remove their exoskeleton in 1 to 2 weeks at maximum, while the young adults can take almost 25 to 30 days to remove a hard outer shell completely.

There is a gap of almost 10 to 15 days between molting stages, allowing young nymphs to reach adulthood within a few months.

The new exoskeleton is soft but gets hard over time as it can harden within 20 to 24 hours in immature nymphs and take 1 to 3 days in adult mantis.

What type of praying mantis hangs upside down?

Most commonly, you can see praying mantis hanging upside down on tree branches at different stages of their lifecycle because it continues for almost 6 to 12 weeks after hatching.

It starts when the eggs hatch and release immature nymphs, which means the immature or young nymphs pass through the first molting stage.

Accordingly, these nymphs pass through several molting stages to reach adulthood and are commonly seen in this posture.

However, it rarely happens after 10 to 12 weeks because most immature nymphs gain their maximum body size within this duration.

This behavior is commonly seen in wild and pet mantis living in captivity when they are in the growing stages of their lives.

So, wingless nymphs hang on tree branches or other vertical surfaces in the wild environment.

What to do if you see a praying mantis hanging upside down?

Praying mantis suffer from extreme pain when hanging upside down and going through a molting stage that can also become deadly for some species.

It is better to help when you see them in this posture because these tiny creatures are going through one of the crucial developmental stages of their lives.

You must stop feeding them because they do not feel hungry, as hormonal changes affect their appetite. You have to maintain silence by reducing noise as they need a quiet environment.

In addition, they need 70 to 80% humidity in the environment; an ideal humidity level can promote successful and quick molting. So, you can mist their cage or put a water bowl inside the enclosure.

You can maintain the internal temperature at 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit because a warmer environment positively impacts the molting process.

Add a soft fabric on the top of an enclosure covering the cage and providing a soft hanging platform that can reduce pain.

Some people add sticks or other hard materials to their cages, but it is not good to do because their soft exoskeleton can get damaged if they accidentally touch any hard object.

Furthermore, you can also manipulate their molting if you see them struggling hard to get rid of an old exoskeleton, but it requires great care as there is a risk of injury to a pet.

I always use a cotton swab to remove the outer shell of the praying mantis’ bodies without making them bleed. You can use a toothpick to remove its shells.

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