SCIENCE IN PICS: The Curious Camouflage of Orchid Mantis

March 12, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015
Epoch Times Photo
The orchid mantis displays beautiful camouflage with its petal-like legs. (Luc Viatour/www.Lucnix.be)

The orchid mantis, Hymenopus coronatus, is an attractive praying mantis native to the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia.

The insect easily camouflages itself in orchid blooms. Its legs resemble brightly colored orchid flower petals, while the body reflects a beautiful blend of purple-pink hues.

While seeking prey, the orchid mantis sits motionless with its forelegs folded as if praying, and when small insects and lizards stray too close, it swings into motion at remarkable speeds to catch them. Its strong mouthparts help to chew through the exoskeletons of the prey.

When born, the orchid mantis is red and black, resembling an ant. However, after the first molt, it adopts pink colors.

Adults show pronounced sexual dimorphism—males are about 1.2 inches (3 cm) long with eight abdominal segments; females are double the length but have only six abdominal segments.

Epoch Times Photo
(Luc Viatour/www.Lucnix.be)