Sunday, 30 December 2018

Fantastic Phasmid

This Titan Stick Insect Acrophylla titan was in our garden yesterday, he probably still is, but I can't see him. His two long antennae are tucked in between the front legs, which have a ragged, leaf-like form.

The thorax and legs had thorn-like spines which also made him resemble a true twig.

Acrophylla stick insects are well named as they favour the highest foliage of eucalyptus trees to feed on, acro being Greek for highest or topmost. So I don't know why this one was down in at our lowly level. The tall yellow box in the front garden, which spreads over where he was hiding, is about 20 m tall. He was about 20 cm long.

His eyes had cryptic colour bands around them, and there was a tiny mite clambering around them.

Seen from below, his head was just as spectacular, with an intriguing array of mouth parts. Why does a vegetarian need such a complicated eating system, I wonder. They only eat leaves.

His wings are on the last section of the thorax, but extended over the fore part of the abdomen. The vestigial wings on a female only extend as far back as the last pair of legs. Although his wings are small for his size, the males can fly. The females cannot. I think this one must have flown away as I left him in one small tree and after dusk he had gone, not in the tree. And yes I am sure he wasn't there. They are nocturnal feeders.

And look at those fantastic feet. He has two hooks and a gripping pad on each one, so over six legs, that's a lot of sticking ability. No wonder they are such good climbers and like to be high.

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