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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Meet The World's Largest Insect

image credit wikipedia 

I recall seeing a Stick insect for the very first time in my life when I was a little girl, I was playing in my backyard. People used to tell me that these insects were actually very poisonous and I grew up believing so. However only recently did I discover quite a few interesting facts about these unique insects, and I also found out that they are not poisonous! 

With such long and narrow bodies, it is not surprising that Stick insects are known as one of the world’s longest insects. Apparently there are over 3.000 species of walking sticks which may range in shape and size from approximately 3 cm to 30 cm in length. Can you imagine an insect that is as long as your school ruler! 

Stick insects are expertly camouflaged by pretending to be pieces of wood. Some even have spikes on their bodies, so they look like twigs from the bushes. Most predators would have a tough time finding them amongst all the twigs. Should a predator grab hold of a Stick insect´s leg, it can make an easy escape by giving up a leg, using a special muscle to break it off at a weak joint. Juvenile Stick insects will regenerate the lost limb the next time they molt, and in some cases adult Stick insects are capable of forcing themselves to molt again to recover the missing limb. 

The Stick insect is a herbivorous animal - in other words its diet is purely vegetarian. It feeds on leaves and other green plants as well as odd berries or fruit. Stick insects are capable of reproducing parthenogenetically, without the need for males. A female may lay more than 1000 eggs (depending on the species), by dropping them randomly on the forest floor, sticking them to leaves or bark, or placing them in the soil. Her eggs are cleverly camouflaged to look like seeds and may remain dormant for a full season or more before hatching. The nymphs are born already closely resembling the adult stick insect.

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