Flower mantises are species of praying mantis that mimic the appearance of the flowers that they live – and hide – among. Their legs, wings and other body parts often look like petals or foliage, and in general their coloring tends to blend in with that of the flora they inhabit. We have 15 amazing images of these spectacularly disguised insects for you to enjoy.
7. Orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus)
The gorgeous orchid mantis makes its home in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia and Malaysia. It mimics the flowers of orchids and frangipani trees found there, with its four walking legs looking remarkably like flower petals.
Interestingly, as well as being carnivorous – it will prey on everything from butterflies and moths to bees and even lizards – the orchid mantis has been seen eating small pieces of banana; observers suggest this is in order to balance its vitamin needs.
6. Spiny flower mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii)
Native to Kenya, this lovely mantis has spines – which look especially plant-like – on its lower abdomen, hence its name. The spiny mantis is one of those species that has a unique, eye-like pattern on its wings, and it is also a fairly small, reaching less than 4 cm in length.
The spiny mantis in this picture almost resembles an angel on top of a Christmas tree! Don’t be fooled by its innocent looking expression, though; it can doubtless be a fierce predator.
5. Giant devil’s flower mantis (Idolomantis diabolica)
The giant devil’s flower mantis is sometimes referred to as the “king of all mantids,” owing both to its size and to its attractiveness.
Native to Tanzania, the giant devil’s flower mantis is among the largest of all mantises – as well as being one of the most bizarre looking. This green and brown predator is a master of camouflage, and its appearance helps it to catch flying insects buzzing by as it lies in wait.
4. Devil’s flower mantis (Blepharopsis mendica)
Found in North Africa and the Canary Islands, the devil’s flower mantis is also known as the Egyptian flower mantis, or the thistle or Arab mantis. Like its larger cousin, the giant devil’s flower mantis, this little critter has horn-like antennae that one would guess have at least something to do with the origins of its moniker.
As cute as they look, 4-5 mm-long hatchlings like this one apparently have a habit of eating their siblings as they get bigger unless there is plenty of food available.
Image: Scott Cromwell
2. Indian flower mantis (Creobroter pictipennis)
The Indian flower mantis is extremely brightly colored, with wonderful patterns on its wing cases. The males are long and slender, with wings that continue beyond their abdomen; females are broader, and their wings don’t extend as much.
The Indian flower mantis is known for the distinctive ‘eye patch’ designs on its wings – which when displayed help to frighten away would-be predators in a show of bright colors. Creobroter are also notable for their ferocity when hunting prey.
1. Jeweled flower mantis (Creobroter gemmatus)
The jeweled flower mantis is very similar to the Indian flower mantis, but the two species have different patterns on their wings. The jeweled flower mantis is another Asian species with a green and white abdomen.
These beauties are only around 4 cm long, though the females are slightly larger than the males. The duller colors of jeweled flower mantises when they are nymphs helps them blend in with their surroundings, and they are known to hang upside down ready to ambush passing prey.