The food plays an important role in keeping our animals healthy. For us humans, variety in the composition is very important. But what about our insects? Of course, they have specialized and adapted to different food insects over time. This must also be taken into account for our captive animals.

However, in my opinion, the biggest role of the feeders often plays a completely different one:

  • Quick breeding
  • Easy to keep
  • No smell
  • Best Price
  • No Noice

The food insects offered are highly dependent on the developmental stage of the mantis. Not all insects go through developmental stages that correspond to the size of all the different larval stages of the mantis. Therefore, I switch to different types of feeders, which is actually dedicated exclusively to the size of the mantid.

Another point not to lose sight of is the nutritional value of the food animals. Most of you will know that mealworms are a real “calorie bomb”. Even in the dried worms the percentage of fat is still quite high at 25-30 percent. In live food, the fat content reaches its maximum. What used to be the sole food in the winter months, since no other food animals were available, is today rather the rare treat or emergency food.

But what about the other feed animals? Are zophobas more substantial than cockroaches? I have compiled a list that can be used as a guide. Unfortunately, not all food animals can be researched, but I will always add new information.

Of course, I also put this list in relation to the points listed above.

Conclusions from the table

Tenebrio molitor- flour beetle larva, mealworm pupa, flour beetle

“The most indispensable food animal for the fancier is probably the yellow and smooth larva of the black flour beetle, known by the name of mealworm, which is passionately eaten by most animals.”

Quote from “Der Terrarien-Freund” from the year 1927

This shows us today excellently how little one thought about the nutritional values at that time and how few alternatives there were. Even today the mealworm is easily available and simple to breed. Therefore I also have some in breeding and offer them to my animals once a month. Based on the nutritional value table, it offers a good contrast to the Drosophilas, as a magnesium supplier.

My conclusion: feeding animal for the emergency

Drosophila melanogaster / Drosophila hydei- Small / Large fruit fly

The fruit fly dwarfs all the forage animals listed in the forage animal nutrition chart!

It has the highest protein values, the lowest fat content, and is at the top in all minerals, with the exception of magnesium. If you counteract this and pollinate the Drosophilas from time to time with Korvimin ZVT, or a similar vitamin preparation, you have the optimal food animal for the rearing of our young mantids.

My Conclusion: Valuable feeding animal!

Acheta domesticus- Crickets

If strictly following the food animal nutrition chart, the cricket would be the best follow-on food after the Drosophilas. Also, the body length of 2.3 to 20 millimeters would be a perfect size to follow our invertebrates through many larval stages. I am speaking in the subjunctive, as I cannot recommend this feeder to you. There are several reasons for this:

  • they eat your animals (during molting)
  • they chirp loudly and for hours
  • they eat through back walls
  • they multiply in the terrarium
  • they multiply in the apartment

My Conclusion: Content but too many drawbacks!

Blatta lateralis- Turkestan Cockroach

Cockroaches have a fat content almost as high as mealworms!

On the positive side, the proportion of dietary fiber is relatively high, and the calcium value takes the top place. Many feed their animals chocolate cockroaches, as breeding is incredibly productive and easy. The disadvantage is obvious based on the advantages.

Here is a small excerpt from a forum:

Super feeder, multiplied enormously without much effort.
Could deliver boxes of cockroaches. But I always had a bad feeling.
But when I found individual cockroaches running free in the room, it was too hot for me. So all away. In the terrarium now and then one appeared and was killed by me.
Then we moved.
Terrariums cleared out / dismantled and the last cockroaches disposed (about half a year after the abolition of the cockroaches).
Inspected empty apartment but luckily found none more.
In the new house terrariums newly arranged and good.

Half a year later:
Flowers need to be repotted. First pot lifted, SHOCK!!!
Several cockroaches grin at me. The hunt begins. After several actions I have then probably all caught.
It’s been 3 years now.
So me no more chocolate cockroaches come into the house.

My Conclusion: Hell no!

Blaptica dubia- Argentine wood cockroach

The disadvantage, which is at the same time an advantage of the Argentine cockroach is the high heat requirement, high humidity and long development times. Thus, there is no danger of uncontrolled reproduction in the home.

It does not chirp, does not jump, cannot crawl up smooth walls such as plastic or glass and is therefore easy to keep. It does not stink, moves relatively slowly and is very undemanding in food. Argentine cockroaches, measured by the proportion of indigestible chitin, bring a portion of protein and thus represent a nutritious prey with a relatively soft body. Not to be disregarded is also there the relatively high fat content.

My Conclusion: Do not take it as the only feeding option!

Galleria mellonella- Wax Moths

The biggest advantage is that it is one of the few feed animal breeds that smells very good. Based on the fat values you can imagine how unhealthy the permanent feeding of wax moths must be. I like to give females a larva as a build up food after an oothec deposit. Since I can easily get hold of honeycombs, breeding is almost a matter of course. However, I would not buy them separately based on these nutritional values, especially since they are not exactly cheap.

My Conclusion: Made for people, who have beekeepers as friends! 

Zophobas morio – Large black beetle larva

In the field of terraristics, zophobas are in great demand as food animals, despite the high fat content. They are easy to breed and therefore also available cheaply. The values in the nutritional value table speak a clear language about which you can not and should not talk away. Also here it is said, in rare exceptional cases as emergency food, if everything else is just not available one can fall back on it.

My Conclusion: For large mantids as emergency food!

Not listed feeding animals

Hermetia illucens- Soldier fly

Unlike mealworms, zophobas, rosebug larvae and other larval species, soldier fly larvae may be fed often. Due to their excellent ratio of calcium to phosphorus, they are a highly interesting food for our fosterlings.

My Conclusion: Perfect feeding animal! 

Schistocerca gregaria- Desert Locust

Also, when feeding grasshoppers, it is important to remove any that are not eaten from the terrarium if possible, as grasshoppers can eat our animals while they are molting.

My Conclusion: Feed only from the tweezers!

Trichorhina tomentosa- White dwarf Isopods

From the known values the isopods are great calcium suppliers. The property as a ground police is known, so they are gladly given in the terrarium. However, I do not do this with mantids, because generally speaking about all isopod species, isopods can and do eat ootheca. They come out at night and also climb up the branches to get to the ootheca.

My Conclusion: Feed only to male mantids!

Lucilia sericata- Goldfly

Maggots are very high in protein and fat, so you should feed them rarely and in small quantities. Flies have a rather low nutritional value, which is why you should enhance them with appropriate food before feeding.

How you can do that you can see here:

For me, flies, as nectar-seeking insects, come closest to the natural prey pattern of a praying mantis. Therefore, I use flies as the main food animal from the appropriate size of the mantid.

My Conclusion: I use them as the main food!

Explanation of terms from the table


The organism does not have a store for protein. Therefore, our pets must consume protein daily via protein-containing foods. If you take in too little protein, your body resorts to muscle. High = Good


Without fat there would be no intact cell membranes, so fat is important. However, too much is bad for the organism, because insects can also become fat! There is a scientific work about obese (obese) mosquitoes. Also, in fruit flies the fat mobilizing hormone was bred away, therefore the number of offspring decreased and the lifespan of the animals. Low = Good

Crude ash:

To determine the crude ash content, the sample is heated to 550 °C. This burns off all organic components and the residue is the crude ash content. The crude ash content corresponds to the mineral content if no further impurities from sand or soil are present. High = Good


Crude fiber or dietary fiber stimulates digestion and prevents constipation. Fiber satisfies hunger without providing calories to the body. High = Good


Calcium is one of the most important nutritional building blocks of our fosterlings. The exoskeleton (outer skeleton) is a supporting structure for the organism, forming a stable outer shell around it. Without sufficient calcium, deficiency symptoms occur here. High = Good


Phosphorus is an important mineral that is also important for building the exoskeleton. High = Good



Magnesium has an anti-inflammatory effect and is involved in the body’s protein production and thus in muscle building. High = Good


Sodium occurs in the body as a positively charged particle – especially outside the cells. It contributes to the build-up of electrical voltage at the cell membranes and is therefore important for the transmission of nerve impulses, the heart rhythm, but also for muscle work. High = Good


Potassium is found in the body’s cells and plays an important role in the electrolyte balance of the cells. It is responsible for the generation of nerve impulses and their transmission within the nervous system, to the muscle fibers and to the heart. High = Good

Dry matter:

The dry matter or dry substance is that component of a substance which remains after deduction of the mass of the water it contains. Thus, the higher the dry matter, the less moisture is contained in the feed. Neutral


The more kilocalories a food contains, the more energy it provides. Neutral