Phyllocrania paradoxa (Ghost Mantis) (2nd instar) – 1 x nymph

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Phyllocrania paradoxa (Ghost Mantis)

Phyllocrania paradoxa (Ghost Mantis) – 1 x nymph

Phyllocrania paradoxa (Ghost Mantis) is a relatively easy Praying Mantis to keep and as such is perfect for a beginner keeping exotic invertebrates.

With its superb adaptations of leaf-like mimicry, Phyllocrania paradoxa (Ghost Mantis) really is a distinguishable and truly captivating species of Praying Mantis to keep.

Phyllocrania paradoxa, common name ghost mantis, is a small species of mantis from Africa remarkable for its leaf-like body. It is one of the three species in the genus Phyllocrania.[1][2][3][4].

Compared to many other praying mantises, the ghost mantis is a “miniature species”[3] growing to only about 45 to 50 millimetres (1.8 to 2.0 in) long.[2]

It comes in various brownish shades from very dark brown (almost black) to greenish gray. An individual’s colors change between molts and are also dependent on light and humidity levels.[2][3]

Phyllocrania paradoxa is camouflaged so as to appear as dead, dried-up leaf material.[5] It has an elongated head, a flattened, extended prothorax (together referred to as its “elaborate headdress and shoulder shields” by one enthusiast),[4] and leaf-like protrusions from its limbs.[5] The mantis also has a forewing that looks like a desiccated leaf,[1] and the “creases” in the wings are actually shadings of pigment.[4]

P. paradoxa oothecae can hatch out up to three dozen young.[6] 1st and 2nd instar nymphs of this species are dark colored and use ant mimicry as a defense.[7]

Sexual Dimorphism

As with most or all species of mantis, Phyllocrania paradoxa is sexually dimorphic, with females being larger than males. Females have six abdominal segments. Males are shorter, narrower, and have eight-segmented abdomens.[3] At the 5th instar and above males are thinner than females and have smaller appendages (lateral of the abdomen). At the 6th instar and above their crowns are different. When adult, males have longer and thicker antennae than females and have transparent wings, which are longer than the abdomen and are good flyers and are significant thinner than the females. At the 5th instar and above females are more compact than males and have bigger appendages. At the 6th instar and above the crown of females are as wide as their head and more line and smoother than the male`s crown. When adult, females are significantly more compact than the male with shorter antennae and the wings cover the abdomen.


Taxa hierarchy

family: Hymenopodidae
subfamily: Epaphroditinae
tribe: Phyllocranini

genus: Phyllocrania Burmeister, 1838


  • Ecology:
    • Terrestrial.
  • Citations (17):
    • Burmeister. 1838. Handb. Ent., Burm. 2:548 >> Note: Empusidae (sbfam)
    • Saussure. 1869. Mitt. schweiz. ent. Ges. 3:53 >> Note: Empusites
    • Saussure. 1871. Mem. Soc. Hist. nat. Geneve 21:322 >> Note: Oxypilites (legio)
    • Saussure. 1871. Mem. Soc. Hist. nat. Geneve 21:450
    • Stal. 1871. Ofvers. K. VetensAkad. Forh. Stockh. 28(3):383 >> Note: Phyllocraniina (sbfam)
    • Saussure. 1872. Mem. Soc. Phys. Hist. nat. Geneve 23:73 >> Note: Oxypilites (legio)
    • Stal. 1877. Bih. K. svenska VetensAkad. Handl. 4(10):83 >> Note: Harpagidae (sbfam)
    • Westwood. 1889. Revis. Mant. 22 >> Note: Harpagides
    • Kirby. 1890. Proc. R. Dublin Soc. 6:568
    • Brunner von Wattenwyl. 1893. Annali Mus. civ. Stor. nat. Genova 13(33):72 >> Note: Phyllocraniae
    • Kirby. 1904. Syn. Cat. Orth. 1:290 >> Note: Mantidae: Creobotrinae
    • Giglio-Tos. 1927. Tierreich 50:518 >> Note: Mantidae: Epaphroditinae: Phyllocraniae (group)
    • Beier. 1934. Genera Insect. 196:6 >> Note: Mantidae: Hymenopodinae: Epaphroditini
    • Paulian. 1957. Faune Madagascar 5:80 >> Note: Mantidae
    • Beier. 1964. Bronn’s Klass. Ordn. Tierreiches 5 3(6):938 >> Note: Hymenopodidae: Acromantinae: Epaphroditini
    • Beier. 1968. Handb. Zool. 4((2) 2/12):6 >> Note: Hymenopodidae: Acromantinae: Epaphroditini
    • Ehrmann. 2002. Mantodea der Welt 279
  • Type species:  Phyllocrania paradoxa Burmeister
  • No first use as family-group name is recorded in the database.



  1. Kieran

    Came yesterday. I love her. She’s beautiful!

    • mitch

      Hi, i’m glad to hear that all is well 🙂

      Best of luck mate.


  2. George

    Just arrived perfectly packed with a heat pack because of the cold weather outside but the box was warm all the way through.The mantis itself is in great condition and looks healthy, I will definitely be buying more mantids from here again in the future.?

    • mitch

      Hi George,

      Thanks for that ? I’m glad that you’re happy.

      If you would like to leave a review, you can leave one here in the reviews section:

      Thanks so much.


  3. jpvaping (verified owner)

    So my first ghost arrived today! But to my surprise there was two!!! Omg! Over the moon and will definitely order again. Thank you so much 🙂

    • mitch

      Hi, you’re most welcome!

      I’m glad to hear that all is well, and that you’re happy 🙂

      Best of luck with them.


  4. Shannon Ratcliffe

    Out of the six you sent in the mystery box, this has got to be my favourite. Still so small, but probably the most personality of the lot! Are you breeding more? I’m addicted, it’s official. (I love them all, btw, they are absolutely amazing). THANK YOU!

    • mitch

      Hey Shannon,

      I’m glad you’re having fun with them 😀

      Yes i have lots coming through, so plenty more if and whenever you want them 🙂


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