By Milly Vincent For Mailonline
Published: 16:34 BST, 18 October 2019 | Updated: 17:21 BST, 18 October 2019
A new type of praying mantis that behaves and moves erratically like a wasp has been discovered near the Amazon river in Peru.
Researchers at Cleveland Museum of Natural History say the mantis, which was first seen in 2013 but only recently identified, is the first to mimic a wasp.
The discovery was made by Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, Dr Gavin Svenson and former Case Western Reserve University graduate student, Henrique Rodrigues, when they caught the insect in a light trap.
Its bright coloration, wasp-like shape and unusual behaviour immediately caught the team's eye – they now understand these adaptations are to ward off predators.
The mantis, named Vespamantoida wherley, has bright coloration and a wasp-like shape which caught the team's eye during a general entomological survey of the field site in the Amazon
The mantis, named Vespamantoida wherleyi, is a bright red colour, which makes it looks like certain types of tropical wasp – although not the common type Westerners are most familiar with.
It also has the same body structure, erratic movements, and even antennae typically associated with most wasp species, the scientists said.
This apparent style of mimicry is a strategy in which a mostly harmless organism tries to look and act like a more threatening creature to try and scare its predators.
Praying mantises are eaten by animals such as frogs, bats, spiders and snakes, and this species may have evolved in a way that put those off trying to feast on it.