The orchid mantis is one of the most beautiful insects with white and pink colors. Their camouflage is so well that many insects are attracted to them rather than real flowers. You can dive into some fun facts about orchid mantises below to see how remarkable they are!
1. Orchid mantises are camouflage expertise
If you look at an orchid mantis among orchid flowers, you will think the mantis is one of them. Its body is white and semi-translucent. On its long and thin limbs, there are colorful highlights which can be orange, pink, brown, yellow, or green.
The insects can change these colors (for example, from light pale pink to brown) to match with specific camouflage necessary in their environments. Some orchid mantises have black areas on their abdomens that resemble the ovule of a developing flower.
To adapt to various environments, these creatures sense humidity and light. Then they change coloration to suit it. This allows them to better resemble their surroundings, allowing them to conceal from predators and get more prey.
Pink orchid praying mantises also have leg lobes that look like flower petals. When the orchid mantis is perched on its hindquarters atop a leaf, the leg lobes puff up like large flower petals. This’s why these insects are named orchid mantises.
Researchers discovered that orchid mantises are so realistic that they drew more bees than real flowers in a study conducted in Malaysia.
The orchid mantis is the first known animal to imitate a full flower (from color to petals, etc.) rather than simply a portion of it.
Like the other mantis species, the orchid features 2 pairs of wings, 4 legs, and 2 eyes on top of their heads. On their limbs, there are toothed arms to grab prey. The full grown male has a size of 1 inch in length while the female is much bigger, about 3 inches long.
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2. They don’t copy a particular orchid
Despite being termed the orchid mantis and resembling an orchid, researchers state that the lotus praying mantis does not replicate any particular orchid or flower. Instead of that, they develop to resemble the colors of various flower species.
From the standpoint of insects, the flower with that color contains tasty nectar. The petal-like legs of the orchid mantis fool the insects and make them believe that the mantis is the flower. As a result, the bugs get in, the mantis orchids get caught and consumed.
3. There’re many types of the flower mantis
If you observe a flower moving, it’s not certain that the moving flower is an orchid mantis. There are many flower mantis and the orchid is one of them. They can be Wandering violin mantis, spiny flower mantis, Small devil’s flower mantis, Taiwan flower mantis, or Nigerian flower mantis.
Those flower mantises don’t belong to the same species, however, they have the same technique to get food. They mimic flowers/leaves to blend into their surroundings to trap the prey.
The devil’s mantis, for example, resembles crumpled leaves. The spiny flower mantis, on the other hand, blends in flowers with its massive green eyespot.
4. People didn’t know they were real
James Hingston is the first one to see the orchid mantis on his trip to West Java in 1879. This place is one of the few sites where the mantises may be found in the wild.
While traveling, he came across a flower garden and saw a flower consuming a butterfly. He didn’t realize it was an orchid mantis.
5. Natural habitat
These species are exclusively found in a few places in Southeast Asia. They live in tropical woods and the mountain ranges that surround the forests. The pink mantises enjoy color, foliage, moisture, and exotic environments with high humidity levels.
6. They’re the top insect predators
Like all other subspecies, the orchid praying mantis is carnivorous. Their primary diet includes beetles, butterflies and their eggs, fruit flies, crickets, stinging insects, and other insects. Among those foods, lepidopteran prey is their favorite. They will sometimes devour their own kind, particularly the female eats the male.
They even dare to hunt bigger creatures like rodents, scorpions, frogs, and even birds. That would be similar to a human seizing a huge bear and ripping it apart with their bare hands.
Orchid mantises can be small, but they are among the insects with the most excellent skills. They mainly ambush their prey, however, they will hunt if they sense targets in their immediate vicinity.
This is how pink flower praying mantis attacked their victims silently.
The orchid mantis finds twigs that have flowers. Then they cling to the branches, swinging their bodies to simulate flowers in the wind while waiting for the prey to come to them.
When the victims are within their reach, the mantises stretch their front legs to catch the prey and viciously consume them. This’s a smart tactic that offers them an advantage over other types of praying mantis. The ability to see things in 3D can help these mantises increase the rate of catching prey.
Orchid mantises have many predators, such as monkeys, snakes, lizards, scorpions, and other predators that consume bugs in the wild. However, in the shape of a flower, this species can easily escape those hunters that prefer to consume insects rather than flowers.
7. They can fly
One of the interesting facts about orchid mantises is that they can fly. This ability allows them to easily travel from flower to flower. It also assists them in navigating the jungle.
With 2 different pairs of wings, this mantis species can fly pretty well. The first pair (aka the tegmen) is tough. They’re used to protect the delicate inner wings.
Male orchid mantises are considerably better at flying than females since they are smaller and have more dynamic personalities. The females are usually slow and patient, they only fly when necessary.
8. They’re not docile as you might think
Orchid mantises are quite aggressive. You can let them live together in the same cage.
The insects can hurt you if frighten or startled. Luckily, they’re not dangerous and their bites are not too serious. They are non-venomous and have small mouths. Therefore, the affected area may have modest skin inflammation. It’s not a concern.
This makes them safe and good pets. However, the orchid mantis is quite hard to keep due to the high mortality of nymphs. They are fussy eaters who get sick quickly, the shedding process is tough, and they need high humidity.
If you want to keep this species as a pet, you can have a look at the guideline here. It will guide how to set up the tank (humidity, temperature, substance, etc), how to care and feed them.
You can buy an orchid mantis online at the price of $50 – $100. In the US, it would be illegal to have this pink mantis as a pet, unless you have permission from the USDA.
9. Life cycle
Because of their brief, hectic lifestyles, these white and pink praying mantises will start to look for mates after a few months of birth. The male will spend hours or days attempting to approach the female. If successful, he’ll climb on her back and shortly mate.
Because the female is significantly bigger than the male, she can kill and consume him after mating. This usually occurs when the female has been starving for a long time. If the male wants to be safe, he should approach the female that is already full or busy feeding on something else.
After breeding, the female will seek out places (branches, twigs, leaves) to deposit hundreds of eggs in a protein-rich frothy bag known as an ootheca. These eggs will hatch in around six weeks
Like the Picasso bug, orchid mantises will skip the pupa phase (incomplete metamorphosis). From the nymph stage, they will transition to the adult through the molting process. They will molt from 6 – 9 times in 3 – 5 months.
At the nymph stage, they look like assassin bugs. They have an orange body with black color on their head and legs. Their bodies at this stage are nearly fully developed. They only need to get wings later.
After shedding their exoskeleton for the first time, orchid mantises acquire stunning pink or white colors. These colors will be with them for the rest of their lives. Some mantises will be pinker than the others, some having all white, which is quite rare. The other may have different colors, depending on where they live.
If not consumed by the female, the male orchid mantis can live for 5 – 6 months. The female orchid mantis’s lifespan is a bit much longer at 8 – 9 months.
10. Mantis – animal memory match free
- Orchid Mantis Facts – https://factanimal.com/orchid-mantis/
- Orchid Mantis – https://critterfacts.com/orchidmantis/
- The Orchid Mantis Looks Like a Flower, ‘Stings’ Like a Bee https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/orchid-mantis.htm
- Beautiful Orchid Mantis Facts | Lifespan – https://www.midgeos.com/2022/02/beautiful-orchid-mantis.html