“Many types of insects mimic ants, from phasmids to katydid, spiders, flies, beetles and praying mantis. Insects mimic ants as a protective mechanism, a form of Batesian mimicry. Birds and other large insects tend to avoid ants as prey as they tend to be aggressive or unpleasant to taste. Ant Mimicry is called ‘myrmecomorphy’ which comes from two words myrmex (meaning ant) and morphos (meaning form). Occasional some insects mimic ants to be able to prey on ants.
“I recently observed one such myrmecomorphy – the Asian Ant Mantis (Odontomantis planiceps), also called the Grass Mantis. As can be realised from the name, this praying mantis is recognised to practise myrmecomorphy. The instar (nymph) of this praying mantis can easily be mistaken as a large ant until you clearly see the front two legs.
“I first spotted this interesting insect in a rural community (Tambun) in January 2016 (top). In September 2016 I observed it in my garden feeding on a winged-grasshopper-like-insect, very much like a small Katydid (above and video, below). It is a small insect and easily dismissed as a large ant. I am sure there have been a number in my garden in the past.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
11th October 2016
References & Sources:
Wikipedia. Ant mimicry LINK.
Kevin Zelnio. Word of the Month: Myrmecomorphy. Scientific America. LINK.
Carly Brooke. Alright Asian Ant Mantis, you fooled me – LINK.