Orchid Mantis

Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo


In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Hymenopus coronatus
Class: Insecta
Order: Dictyoptera
Family: Hymenopodidae
Genus: Hymeonpus




Height: Less than an inch Less than two inches
Length: 1-1.2 inches 2.4 inches
Weight: Unknown, less than females Unknown, more than males
Maturity: Unknown, earlier than females Females mature after their seventh and last molt

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Carnivorous
Activity Timeframe: Diurnal
Interactivity: Solitary
Sexual Dimorphism: Yes
Gestation: 5-6 weeks
Lifespan in the Wild: 2.4 inches
Lifespan in Captivity: Same

Geographic Range

Orchid mantises are found in Southeast Asia, in the counties Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Southern China.


Status in the Wild:


Females are the larger, more conspicuous of the species. They can grow up the 2.4 inches long, and be white and/or pink in coloration. They have six abdominal segments and their legs resemble flower petals. Females have a green “collar” and wings. Males grow to be 1.2 inches at the largest, and have a duller, greenish-brown coloration. They have 8 abdominal segments, a brown “collar” and wings. Juveniles resemble ants, with black bodies and red legs. After their first molt, they are completely white. It is only after successive molts that they get their adult coloration.

Species Specifics

The scientific name, H. coronatus is synonymous with the species name H. bicornis.

Physical Characteristics

The femoral lobes (the mid and hind-femur) of the orchid mantis are enlarged to look petal-like. This helps the orchid mantis resemble a flower and lure prey species within striking distance. Additionally, the bright color of their body glows like a flower under UV light, which pollinators can see, and oftentimes attracts the prey more than an actual flower does.



Orchid mantises are found in Southeast Asia, in the counties Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Southern China.


Orchid mantises are rarely encountered in the wild, thus very little information is known of their distribution.


The diet of orchid mantises consists of pollinators such as bees, flies, and butterflies as well as other small insects.

Ecological Web

They help keep the population of insect pollinators in check through predation. Orchid mantises serve as prey to birds and other small carnivores.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

Orchid mantises hunt and search for mates during the day.


Like all mantises, orchid mantises are ambush predators, waiting for prey to get within striking distance. They use their coloration as a lure to get pollinators to come close enough to catch.

Social Behavior

Orchid mantises are solitary, and females are aggressive.

Reproductive Behavior



50-100 small eggs, or oothecae, are laid per clutch. The clutch is surrounded by a foam protein, which darkens over time.



The orchid mantis is not listed on either the IUCN or the CITES appendices.


The orchid mantis was first formally described in 1972 from a specimen collected in Ambon, Indonesia.

Current Threats

Our Role

Exhibit and educate

How You Can Help

You can help orchid mantises and other rainforest animals by recycling! This helps saves forests from being cut down and habitat destroyed.

Fascinating Facts

Females are about twice the size of males! While in many invertebrate species, this is common, female size is usually driven by fecundity (big clutch size). In the orchid mantis, female size is driven rather by predatory selection factors—by becoming bigger and brighter, a new prey type was opened up to them: pollinators. Males are small and cryptid, which allows them to move around in search of mates unseen by predators (and predatory females!).

Orchid mantises were once thought to mimic an orchid, however, recent studies have compared the color, brightness, and shape of orchid mantises to flowers in their natural range and found that the orchid mantis does not closely resemble any single species of flower, but flowers in general. This means that rather than relying on the flower to lure their prey in, their shape and color deceives pollinators into thinking the mantis is a flower by using sensory biases of the pollinators. Often times, the orchid mantis is more attractive to pollinators than the flowers are!

Researches think that the reason orchid mantises do not resemble a certain flower is that they don’t need their prey to land of them to get food—the prey just needs to come within striking distance. They believe this relieves selection pressures to look like a certain flower.

Female orchid mantises have six abdominal segments while males have eight abdominal segments.

Female orchid mantises will molt seven times in their eight-month lifespan, and males will molt five times in their 5-6 month lifespan.

Female orchid mantises will molt seven times in their eight-month lifespan, and males will molt five times in their 5-6 month lifespan.






Svenson, Gavin J., et al. “Selection for Predation, Not Female Fecundity, Explains Sexual Size Dimorphism in the Orchid Mantises.” Scientific Reports, 1 Dec. 2016, pp. 1–9., doi: 10.1038/srep37753.

O’Hanlan, J. C., et al. “Coloration and morphology of the orchid mantis Hymenopus coronatus (Mantodea: Hymenopodidae).” Journal of Orthoptera Research. 1 Nov. 2015, pp 35-44., Vol. 22, No. 1.

O’Hanlan, J. C., et al. “Habitat selection in a deceptive predator: maximizing resource availability and signal efficacy.” Behavioral Ecology. 1 Jan. 2015, pp 194-199., doi: 10.1093/beheco/aru179.

O’Hanlan, J. C., et al. “Predatory pollinator deception: Does the orchid mantis resemble a model species?” Current Zoology. 2014, pp 90-103., Vol. 60, No. 1.

O’Hanlan, James C. “Orchid mantis quick guide.” Current Biology. 22 Feb. 2016, pp 145-146., doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.11.027.

Hingsley, J. 1879. The Australian abroad: branches from the main routes round the world. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, Melbourne.

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