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Pollinator Deception in the Orchid Mantis

James C. O’Hanlon, Gregory I. Holwell and Marie E. Herberstein
The American Naturalist
Vol. 183, No. 1 (January 2014), pp. 126-132
DOI: 10.1086/673858
Stable URL:
Page Count: 7
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AbstractMimicry has evolved in contexts such as camouflage, predator deterrence, luring of prey, and pollinator attraction. Mimicry of flowers has until now been demonstrated only in angiosperms, yet it has been hypothesized that the Malaysian orchid mantis Hymenopus coronatus mimics a flower to attract pollinators as prey. Despite the popularity of this charismatic insect, this long-discussed hypothesis has never been experimentally investigated. We found that, as predicted for mimicry, the color of H. coronatus is indistinguishable from the color of sympatric flowers for hymenopteran pollinators. Field experiments show that isolated mantises attract wild pollinators at a rate even higher than flowers and capture these pollinators as prey items. 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.

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This item contains 44 references.

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