Flower or bug? Turns out Animal Crossing’s ‘orchid mantis’ is a real thing

Story by CBC Kids News • Published 2020-07-15 17:06

Creature’s flower-like appearance lures in prey

If you’ve ever played the video game Animal Crossing, you know that the orchid mantis is one of the hardest bugs to collect because of its camouflage.

But did you know that it’s also a real insect?

Although the orchid mantis isn’t a new species, it got some traction online this week after one user on Twitter shared a video of the stunning creature.

The Hymenopus coronatus (no, not coronavirus), otherwise known as the orchid mantis, is native to the forests of Southeast Asia. 

The mantis looks like an orchid flower because of something called aggressive mimicry, an evolutionary strategy where animals mimic something else in nature to trick or lure in prey.

Sort of like a venus flytrap.

With a superpower like that, it’s no wonder it made it into a video game.

Screen capture from ANimal Crossing shows a player who has just caught a Lotus Mantis

In Animal Crossing, the orchid mantis is very rare and can only be found on white flowers when it’s not raining. (Nintendo)

As is true with every installment of the Animal Crossing series, bugs you collect, like the orchid mantis, can be donated to the museum director who identifies the animal for you.

In Animal Crossing: Wild World, the first game in the series to include the mantis, the museum director describes it this way:

"Orchid mantises look like orchids and use them as camouflage for protection from predators. While this camouflage keeps them safe, it also helps them to surprise any prey that comes to the flowers. They are usually carnivorous, but they still eat the occasional banana to balance their vitamin intake."

Want to learn about more amazing creatures? Check out the following articles:

TOP IMAGE CREDIT: (Ninendo/Animal Crossing Wiki Fandom, susantanada3/Twitter)

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