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

October 15, 2013, Macquarie University

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

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

April 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 flowers.

New research explains orchids' sexual trickery

December 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 efficient ...

Rare orchids mimic fungus to attract flies

April 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 discuss the lady’s ...

New orchid identified from Komodo

June 5, 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

December 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

Common weed killer linked to bee deaths

September 24, 2018

The world's most widely used weed killer may also be indirectly killing bees. New research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that honey bees exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, lose some of ...

Custom circuits for living cells

September 24, 2018

A team of Caltech researchers has developed a biological toolkit of proteins that can be assembled together in different ways, like Legos, to program new behaviors in cells. As a proof-of-concept, they designed and constructed ...

Birds' voiceboxes are odd ducks

September 24, 2018

Birds sing from the heart. While other four-limbed animals like mammals and reptiles make sounds with voiceboxes in their throats, birds' chirps originate in a unique vocal organ called the syrinx, located in their chests. ...

Desert ants have an amazing odor memory

September 24, 2018

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology used behavioral experiments to show that desert ants quickly learn many food odors and remember them for the rest of their lives. However, their memory for nest ...

Some female termites can reproduce without males

September 24, 2018

Populations of the termite species Glyptotermes nakajimai can form successful, reproducing colonies in absence of males, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Biology.

0 comments

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.