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May 01, 2018



 Excerpt: The orchid mantis, Hymenopus coronatus (Insecta: Mantodea), is renown
for its visual resemblance to a flower blossom. It has been hypothesised that
the 'flower like' orchid mantis is an aggressive mimic that attracts pollinators
as prey items. This is the first study into the morphology of the orchid
mantis that explores this widely discussed hypothesis. We quantified color
and shape patterns of orchid mantises that are likely to present visual cues
to pollinators. We used spectrometry to measure their overall coloration
and geometric morphometric techniques to quantify the shape of their
'petal-like' mid- and hind-legs. This was done for both juvenile and adult
female orchid mantises. To investigate how this stimulus may be perceived
by a pollinating insect we investigated within-individual color variation
using physiological models of hymenopteran vision. Mantises were found
to reflect primarily UV- absorbing white. Visual models indicated that within
individuals, different body parts did not contrast highly in color. Femoral
lobes showed patterns of bilateral symmetry with juveniles expressing similar
patterns of shape variation to adults. The results are used to provide specific
and testable hypotheses as to how the morphology of the orchid mantis
may constitute a signal directed towards pollinating insects.