Praying Mantis Looks Like a Flower—And Now We Know Why
The mantis orchid of Southeast Asia evolved in a way that's completely unique to insects.
When is an orchid not an orchid? When it's a female orchid praying mantis, a Southeast Asian insect that masquerades as a flower to attract prey.
With petal-like legs and a yellow or whitish pink color, females share little resemblance to males, which are about half the size and sport a dull, greenish brown color.
Now, new research shows that male and female orchid mantises don't just look different—they evolved in a way never before seen in arthropods, the group that includes spiders and insects. (See pictures of amazing insect camouflage.)
The research suggests that the females' strategy of hunting pollinating insects shaped the two known species' evolution, leading to big females that resemble orchids and small males