Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Watch This Delicate Orchid Mantis Not-So-Delicately Snatch its Prey

They may look and behave like docile creatures, but orchid mantises will attack at the sight of a meal.

The pristine white and pink of these juvenile orchid mantises may make them look like docile flowers, but they quickly turn into vicious predators when a flying insect buzzes by. The innocent little flies have no chance once an orchid mantis scoops them up at a lightning speed with razor sharp front legs.

This floral-looking species of praying mantis, Hymenopus coronatus, is often found in rainforests of Southeast Asia. The insect’s white, pink, and yellow coloration and four lobed hind legs look like petals. But scientists say that the orchid mantis does not look like any particular kind of flower. Instead of mimicking just one species, the orchid mantis may embody a “generic or an average type of flower” to attract more pollinating insects, Science Friday reports.

The general floral appearance makes the orchid mantis a perfect predator. It is so good at tricking and luring pollinators that studies have shown the orchid mantis attracts more bees than do flowers in the environment, behavioral ecologist James O’Hanlon told Science Friday.

Orchid mantis, like most mantises, live and survive alone. They will perch blended in amidst flowers, waiting for the next meal to fly by. In the video, the orchid mantis bobs gently on a branch in plain sight, fluttering the way a real flower would, until it catches a nearby fly at the 17-second mark. You then get a nice close-up of the insect’s powerful bite, as its mandibles slice through the juicy victim and gobble it up. Yum.  

Every day we track down a Video Wonder: an audiovisual offering that delights, inspires, and entertains. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email ella@atlasobscura.com.