Insect Sunday #3
Sorry for the lackluster insect, I’m still recovering from the endeavor that was the wheat
First discovered by British explorer James Hingston in 1879, the orchid mantis left Hingston dumbfounded, as he simply thought he was looking at an ordinary flower. Hingston first discovered the species in West Java, but the mantis also exists in Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The mantis’ camouflage greatly reflects its preferred habitat. Mantises live in areas with a high amount of moisture and vegetation. The mantises also greatly value their shade and humidity and prefer areas that have a high amount of each of those factors. The ideal temperatures for these creatures are about 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Typically in the wild, the temperature of the mantis’ environment can range anywhere between 25 and 30 degrees celsius (77 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit), perfect for the mantis. Despite being so dependant on high humidity, the young are very sensitive to humidity.
The most prevalent feature of the striking beauty that is the mantis is the bright colors it bears that reflect that of an orchid, where it earns its name. In fact, the striking camo once fooled the very man who discovered the mantis. James recorded the specimen and stated “I am taken by my host around his garden, and shown, among other things, a flower, a red orchid, that catches and feeds upon live flies. It seized upon a butterfly while I was present, and enclosed it in its pretty but deadly leaves, as a spider would have enveloped it in a network”. Typically, wild mantises are white with soft or bright pink accents. However, it’s not uncommon to see an individual be completely white. The mantises can change color, and it’s not uncommon to see one do so in just the matter of a few days based off humidity and light conditions. The mantis lives in environments with flowers that look much like the mantis, so mantises that are brought to unfamiliar lands must learn to adapt with the surrounding flowers to cement its role as the apex predator of the insects. The mantis even alters its minute features to make it that much more convincing. The mantises have dark spots on their abdomens that resemble a budding flower and the female has noticeable lobes on its legs that resemble petals. There exists size dysmorphia in the insect. The female is noticeably larger than the male, being about 6 to 7 cm large (2.4 to 2.8 in)
The life cycle of the orchid mantis differs slightly from others in the insect group. THe young are born from eggs that the female mantis lays. When they hatch, they’re in a stage known as a nymph. Nymph is a term given to any juvenile mantis. The nymphs are not considered larvae like many other insects when they’re in this stage. This differentiation of name is due to the nature of their bodies. After they hatch, they already have a fully developed body, except for the wings. The young also bear an unnecessary but hard exoskeleton that comes off as they molt, or shed. The young also don’t have the same defined colors that their parents do. After a continuous cycle of molting every so often, the nymph grows into an adult and have fully gotten rid of their hard exoskeleton
The orchid mantis, doing as she does best
Insect Sunday #3
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