Pollinator deception in the orchid mantis

James C. O'Hanlon, Gregory I. Holwell, Marie E. Herberstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mimicry 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Volume183
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

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