Hi everyone! I am SO excited to introduce you all to our three new family members!
What are these beautiful, crazy-looking creatures, you ask?
These are Spiny Leaf insects from the insect order Phasmatodea. These guys feed on a variety of eucalyptus leaves, as well as wattle trees and rose bushes. Apparently, if you feed them the latter two, they will turn a beautiful shade of green whereas, the eucalyptus, will keep them brown.
When faced with a ‘predator’ (like me) they will sway their body to resemble a leaf blowing in the wind. It’s kind of cute, that even when I’m holding them, they will do it. And as you can see from picture #2, they are dedicated to their role; sometimes freezing in pose for quite some time. I noticed, that even while at rest in the cage, they will have one or two legs up in the air as if it were a branch.
The female has the ability to bear offspring even without the help of a male companion. This is called parthenogenesis. I discussed this topic, regarding Goliath Stick insects, in a blog post HERE. So, even when they do not actually mate, the female will still be able to have babies– although they will all be female and clones of the mother.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about these insects is that when the female lays eggs they look like seeds with a knob on the end. Then ants, thinking they are seeds, carry them to their nest, eat only the knob and leave the rest. When the babies hatch, they even resemble ants and are able to move amongst the colony unnoticed and eventually leave.
The adult of this species can reach anywhere from 15 to 30cm! So, stay tuned to see the progress of these little babies.
And just in case any of you are ‘insectphobic’, here are a couple pictures of my girls holding them. 😉 (Please ignore the blur, they were being ‘leaves’.)
Before I go, I want to ask for your help to name these three. At this point, I’m assuming two males and a female but hey, maybe we can come up with some neutral names to cover all three. Think outside the box. Sure, Larry, Moe and Curly (get it, Curly?) are good but I like the unique…obviously.
Also, to support my Insect Education program for local schools, please visit this link and donate whatever you can to bring insect education to local Queensland schools.