Orchid Mantis at Te Papa

Popped in to Te Papa over the weekend and took a wander through the Bug Lab exhibition. Created with the assistance of Weta Workshop, the show includes four ‘pods’ which you enter to find out more about a particular insect – jewel wasp (who makes a zombie out of a cockroach), Japanese honey bees (who work together to kill invading hornets), dragonfly in flight … and the orchid mantis.

Te Papa used an all-white mantis in its short movie, but they also come in delicate shades of pink and white, or all pink. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Native to Malaysia, Hymenopus coronatus has evolved to look enough like an orchid (or a flower in general) that it fools passing food – at least that’s what we’ve thought for a long time. However, recent research (includes a short video of the mantis at work) has discovered that prey doesn’t think the mantis looks like a flower but is tricked by its pretty, flower-like colouring.

Read more about the mantis here, and see some great photos of real insects.

The Te Papa show runs until April 17 (entry charge) and will entrance big kids as well as little kids. It then moves to Melbourne and possibly further afield.

Weta Workshop creates plenty of magic at Bug Lab. A giant orchid mantis among giant Phalaenopsis flowers. Photo: Sandra Simpson


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One Response to Orchid Mantis at Te Papa

  1. John & Winsome Edwards says:

    An interesting article and great photos, Sandra. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

    Winsome & John


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