Friday, 25 October 2013

Orchid deceit


The orchid mantis is a strange thing.

We’ve all read how orchids mimic creatures to secure pollination. The orchid mantis resembles a flower in order to lure its prey … and is more effective at attracting insects than an actual flower, researchers have found.

Botanically, orchids use scent and bright colours to attract insects. It has long been assumed that the orchid mantis mimics flowers in order to lure these same insects.

Australian researchers investigating this theory were stunned to discover that the species is around 30 per cent more effective at attracting pollinators than the real thing, says a report.

They measured the hourly rate at which the pollinators flew up to the mantis and compared that to real flowers, according to Dr James O’Hanlon, an ecologist at Macquarie University in Sydney.

The Malaysian orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) is apparently the only known animal to mimic a plant, however there is still very little known about the species.

The team of scientists is now intrigued. How the insects are viewing them? Do they respond to the shape or colour? Do they think it’s a flower, or something unique and attractive?”


By Pamela Kelt 


Picture: the orchid mantis