Orchid mantis mimicry ‘attracts prey’

by Julia Bradley on December 6, 2013

Scientists have confirmed that a creature known as the orchid mantis mimics exotic flowers to both hide from prey – and attract victims.

The insect, that features legs which look like petals, has evolved over time to imitate orchids in both shape and colour.

Australian researchers who carried out the research even claim that the orchid mantis is actually more attractive to insects than the genuine flower itself.

“Their bright floral colours and petal shaped legs create a tantalising lure for insects,” said James O’Hanlon from Macquarie University.

“So it seems that orchid mantises not only look like flowers but also beat flowers at their own game.”

Back in the 1800s, naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace was the first to suggest the orchid mantis behaves in this way.

But the concept has never been confirmed until now – largely because of how rare the creature is in its native habitat of the rainforests of Southeast Asia.

The scientists found that its body is attractive to flying insects, demonstrating how its flower-like appearance has evolved to lure in unsuspecting pollinators searching for nectar in flowers.

They now hope to conduct further research that will analyse how predators view orchid mantises.

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Julia Bradley

Research Assistant at Interflora - interested in all things PR!

Post category: Nature, News, Orchids  

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