Orchid mantis: more interesting than cryptic mimicry

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I know, I know, you read the title and exclaim: what can be more exciting than cryptic mimicry?! Well, listen to this:

On the face of it, this is a classic evolutionary story, and a cut-and-dried case: the mantis has evolved to mimic the flower as a form of crypsis – enabling it to hide among its petals, feeding upon insects that are attracted by the flower…

O’Hanlon and colleagues set about systematically testing the ideas contained within the traditional view of the orchid mantis’ modus operandi. First, they tested whether mantises actually camouflage amongst flowers, or, alternatively, attract insects on their own…

However, when paired alongside the most common flower in their habitat, insects approached mantises more often than flowers, showing that mantises are attractive to insects by themselves, rather than simply camouflaging among the flowers…Surprisingly mantises did not choose to hide among the flowers. They chose leaves just as often. Sitting near flowers did bring benefits, though, because insects were attracted to the general vicinity – the “magnet effect”.

But wait: there’s more!

As an aside, I’ve heard that Preying Mantis’ make great pets. They are social creatures that will creepily watch you everywhere you go, but also kind of ignore you. They’re like insect-cats.

(Photo from)

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