Claim: this is a photo of Empusa pennata AKA the Cone-head Mantis
Photo credit: Hi friends by Mehmet Karaca
The photo is real. However, as @PicPedant pointed out, it appears to be staged.
- The photo has been manipulated and staged
- Apparently someone has tried to erase a thin horizontal line from the photo. This thin line is most likely a wire that propped up the mantises
- The histogram image shows 1) vertical line holding the legs and 2) horizontal line connecting the waists. These lines are most likely wires
Reminder that there is an industry of abusing and manipulating unlikely animal photos to produce “cute” viral shots
Another example of a viral “cute” frog photo (photo credit: Shikhei Goh):
Update #1: two frogs
This photo by Ajar Setiadi is often shared by the picture accounts.
Analysis by Neal Krawetz:
Update 2: another photo of two mantises
This photo looked suspicious. I was requested to remove the photo from this blog. However, the forensic analysis link is still available.
In both cases the analysis suggests that wires/strings were used to control the animals. Both photos were also submitted to a National Geographic photo contest.