How to set up a Praying Mantis Terrarium in IKEA lantern

We adopted a praying mantis female from the garden (before the frost) and were looking for vases to make into terrariums. We stumbled across the large BORRBY lanterns – score! A perfect size, beautiful, and has much better access than a vase. The door on the side makes it much easier for cleaning.

The size of the container will depend on the size of your praying mantis. For our mantis, Linda, the BORRBY was a good size and we only have one mantis. If you want to house more than one praying mantis in a terrarium, we would not recommend the BORRBY lantern. Get a larger terrarium!

Praying mantis also requires a good flow of air. The vents on the lantern served this function.

Praying Mantis terrarium in an IKEA lantern


Praying Mantis Terrarium in an IKEA lantern

Step 1: Clear the base of the terrarium

Praying Mantis terrarium in an IKEA lantern

A few modifications were needed, starting with removing the nail sticking up in the middle (I thought it would snip off but it required some Dremel work). (Update: This is an older version of the BORRBY lantern. The new BORRBY lantern does not come with a nail for the candle.)

Step 2: Add screen across vents

Inside view

Next were the “windows” which were probably small enough to keep the mantis in, but certainly too big to keep her food contained within the terrarium. Praying mantises are carnivorous and require live insects to eat. Crickets, fruit flies, and mealworms are good options. So I glue-gunned mosquito screen from an old window on the side vents. I left the top level of vents open and instead put a piece of screen across the entire access to the “attic” section.

Step 3: Seal the bottom gaps

The tabs and slots construction left some large openings around the bottom walls, so they got a bead of caulking.

Step 4: Add climbing surfaces

Praying Mantis terrarium in an IKEA lantern

A piece of cedar shim glued to the back wall gives a nice rough surface to climb on. A piece of a plank became a base for plants and sticks, and a dollar store pot holder turned into a nice woven carpet.

Step 4: Add a water source

Lastly, we added a shallow dish of water for her. If not, you’ll need to mist the container to provide the necessary hydration.

praying mantis on IKEA lantern

Linda (the beast) seems to like her new abode. She loves to hang out on the screen ceiling, and if we open the door she climbs out all over her house.

~ by David d’Anjou, Montreal