Myrmecomorphy (Ant Mimicry) by a Praying Mantis

on 20th October 2016

Asian Ant Mantis-Odontomantis planiceps [AmarSingh]

“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.

Asian Ant Mantis-Odontomantis planiceps-Asian Ant Mantis-Odontomantis planiceps-

“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.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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