Fatal Flower Fairies

When it comes to the question of which animal is the best hunter, many people often make the mistake of picking size over strategy. The insect world is home to some of the most ruthless, vicious, single-minded hunters Earth has ever produced. In particular, praying mantises seem to live without fear. I’ve even seen one attack a lawnmower once. It didn’t really make a dent but I was still impressed by the attempt. Some praying mantises even remain deadly killing machines while decked out in floral pink.

The Orchid Mantis is a highly specialized predator. It’s camouflage is some of the most impressive in the animal kingdom. These tiny juggernauts take the appearance of little flowers complete with petals and coloration. Their prey usually can’t spot the deception until it’s too late.

These masterful assassins can change their coloration to blend in with their hunting ground.
Their scientific name is Hymenopus coronatus.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to travel to Southeast Asia to spot one in the wild.
Orchid Mantises prey on any small bugs that fly close enough to get snatched. This includes butterflies and bees.
Some botanists have theorized that the presence of these hunters actually increases pollination rates by attracting more insects to their flowers.
Despite their vicious and merciless hunting tactics, these mantises are very protective of their eggs and demonstrates other various “parental care” behaviors.
Though they are named after orchids, recent studies show that they try to emulate the traits of flowers in general, not orchids in particular.
They also don’t tend to act aggressively towards people. Most of the time they just ignore us, even when they use us as a bench.
Although I’ve used the word camouflage, that’s a bit misleading. The orchid mantis doesn’t use it’s unique colors and design to hide from predators but rather to attract prey.
I wish we had some in America but they’d probably destroy our garden ecosystems.

For more on this amazing creature check out this National Geographic highlight!


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