The Malaysian orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) is a species of praying mantis (family Mantidae) native to Southeast Asia. The insect takes its name from the flower on which it commonly resides and with which it shares an important relationship. Insect enthusiasts sometimes keep the orchid mantis as a pet. The habitat of the orchid mantis differs depending on whether it lives in captivity or the wild, though each habitat contains the same basic components.
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The rainforests of Malaysia and various Indonesian islands comprise the native habitat of the orchid mantis. In particular, the insect lives on and around white and pink orchids within these rainforests. The insects live the majority of their lives in trees and on plants, rarely coming into contact with the floor of their habitat. Malaysian rainforests occur at a number of altitudes, but all qualify as dipterocarp. The majority of tree species the mantis lives in belong to the Dipterocarpaceae family.
The feeding habit of the orchid mantis relates directly to its habitat. They trap prey such as crickets, moths and flies by imitating their habitat. More specifically, the mantis uses its white and pink colouring to blend in with orchids. Its flexible body, which contorts to resemble petals, can integrate itself into the structure of flowers. The Orchid mantis hunts not by pursing prey, but by waiting for prey to land on the same flower.
When kept in captivity, the ideal habitat for the orchid mantis is a screen cage. Such an enclosure allows the insect to climb the walls, thus mimicking its natural, arboreal habitat, while encouraging the circulation of air. Adults require large enclosures that stress vertical size over horizontal size. Captivity habitats should have 2 to 3 inches of peat moss or potting soil ground and hanging elements such as vines, branches and plants. The hanging elements must be far enough from the floor of the enclosure so the mantis may hang upside down from it during the moulting process.
Orchid mantids are tropical insects. As such, they require an average temperature of 26.7 degrees Celsius and an average humidity of 75 per cent to flourish. The insects may be incapable of completing the moulting process in climates without sufficient moisture in the air. Female orchid mantids reach a mature size of more than twice that of male insects; the average female reaches a mature length of 4.5 inches, while males grow as long as 2 inches. The females require larger enclosures when kept as pets or in environments like zoos or academic laboratories.
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