Camouflage is very often used in the wild animal kingdom as a survival tool, but orchid mantis is the only animal in the world scientists know of that resembles a flower blossom to attract prey. Orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) is that kind of creature at which you have to look twice to glimpse it in the nature.
Although this species does not live on orchids, it resembles them extremely well. The insect is white, pink or a mix of two colors, and has lobes on its legs that look like flower petals. To remain unseen the insect lives on white and pink flowers in bushes and small trees. Orchid mantis can change color in a matter of days, depending on humidity and light conditions.
Thanks to its bizarre appearance the amazing insect manages to hide from predators as birds, but can attract victims in the same time.
It seems that, as a hunter, the creature is more attractive to pollinating insects than the real flowers. This idea was only theoretical until Professor O’Hanlon and Marie Herberstein from Macquarie University, and Gregory Holwell from the University of Auckland provided the first experimental evidence, after their recent expedition to Malaysia. The scientists now hope to conduct further experiments to gather more information about how predators view orchid mantises.
Another interesting fact about these insects is that females grow much bigger than males. An adult female can reach 6 to 7 cm long, while the male does not overcome 2,5 cm. Due to this big size difference the male also matures earlier than the female; in other words the males may die of old age while the females are not yet mature. This sounds a little sad, doesn’t it?
Orchid mantis can be found in its native habitat in the rainforests of Southeast Asia, but for those interested to keep these amazing creatures as pets it seems that there are enough breeders on the market. However, their life span is obviously pretty small. If the female reaches about eight months, the male reaches only six.
What do you think about keeping an orchid mantis as pet?
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