Study shows orchid mantis more attractive to their prey than real orchids

Oct 15, 2013

(Phys.org) —The orchid mantis is famous for its remarkable similarity to the orchid flower, but researchers from Macquarie University have now discovered that its' unique form of deception not only attracts its prey by resembling a blossom, but is in fact even more attractive to pollinators than the real flower.

Since its discovery in South East Asia more than a century ago, the rarity and elusive nature of the orchid mantis has made it difficult for scientists to understand why and how it has evolved this bizarre appearance.

Researchers James O'Hanlon and Marie Herberstein from Macquarie University, along with Gregory Holwell from the University of Auckland mounted an expedition to Malaysia to study the orchid mantis. They observed that the body of the orchid mantis was attractive to flying insects, demonstrating how their flower-like appearance has evolved to lure in unsuspecting searching for nectar in flowers.

"What really surprised us was the fact that the orchid mantises were even more successful at attracting pollinators than real flowers," said O'Hanlon.

"Their bright floral colours and petal shaped legs create a tantalizing lure for insects. So it seems that orchid mantises not only look like flowers but also beat at their own game.

"After more than a century of conjecture we provide the first experimental evidence of pollinator deception in the orchid mantis and the first description of a unique predatory strategy that has not been documented in any other animal species."

Their findings have been published in the The American Naturalist.

Explore further: New species and surprising findings in the Mariana Trench

More information: O'Hanlon, J., Holwell, G. and Herberstein, M. (2013) Pollinator Deception in the Orchid Mantis, The American Naturalistwww.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/1… true&jpdConfirm=true

Related Stories

Orchid sexual deceit has male wasps in a loved-up frenzy

Apr 29, 2008

Orchids are admired by humans and insects alike, but according to Macquarie University research, one Australian wasp is so enthralled by ‘Orchid Fever' that actually he ejaculates while pollinating orchid ...

New research explains orchids' sexual trickery

Dec 17, 2009

A new study reveals the reason why orchids use sexual trickery to lure insect pollinators. The study, published in the January issue of The American Naturalist, finds that sexual deception in orchids leads to a more effici ...

Rare orchids mimic fungus to attract flies

Apr 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Zong-Xin Ren from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Peter Bernhardt from Saint Louis University discus ...

New orchid identified from Komodo

Jun 05, 2013

(Phys.org) —A new species of orchid has been identified on the South East Asian island of Komodo despite having been wrongly named for the past 300 years.

Two new species of orchid found in Cuba

Dec 27, 2012

Researchers from the University of Vigo, in collaboration with the Environmental Services Unit at the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (Cuba), have discovered two new species of Caribbean orchid.

Recommended for you

A vegetarian carnivorous plant

13 hours ago

Carnivorous plants catch and digest tiny animals in order and derive benefits for their nutrition. Interestingly the trend towards vegetarianism seems to overcome carnivorous plants as well. The aquatic carnivorous bladderwort, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.