OH, LORD, IT’S A HOWE ISLAND STICK BUG!!!
I have a fondness for all things Australian. I do not have a fondness for bugs, but for this critically endangered Australian insect I’ll make an exception.
Let’s meet the Lord Howe Island Stick Bug!
Photo credit: Rohan Cleave, Melbourne Zoo
Lord Howe Island is a small crescent piece of land east of Sydney, Australia. At one time, in the not too distant past, it was home to the Lord Howe Stick Bug pictured above. Then one day, a trade ship ran aground on the shores of the island. Soon, some rats escaped from the ship. Those rats, which were not indigenous to the island, feasted on Lord Howe Stick Bugs. As a result, for eighty years, it was believed that this unusual insect was extinct.
Unexpectedly, the insect was rediscovered in 2001 high atop Ball’s Pyramid. Ball’s Pyramid is an inhospitable and unlikely refuge. The bug was found living in a single bush in a crevice of rock. Two researchers, including Rohan Cleave (above Arkive photo credit), from the Melbourne Zoo, brought two of the stick bugs back to the mainland and began a breeding program.
Ball's Pyramid. Credit: Fanny Schertzer; Wikimedia
The Lord Howe Island Stick Bug is the world’s most endangered invertebrate, so the breeding program, which is ongoing in Melbourne, is very important.
This bug is a flightless nocturnal insect. At birth it is green and it is referred to as a nymph, which simply means that it is immature. Then it goes through several molts (loss of skin) or sloughs (removal of outer covering). After each molt, it grows and by the time it is six months old it has reached maturity and is dark brown or black in color.
Immature Lord Howe Island Stick Bug
Photo: Rohan Cleave (Melbourne Zoo)
Mature Lord Howe Island Stick Bugs will clump together for protection in what is called ‘stacking.’ There are only 20 to 30 individuals left in the wild, and they are at risk of being wiped out by any random event of nature or weather at Ball’s Pyramid.
Stacking Lord Howe Stick Bug
Photo Credit: Rohan Cleave
For more information on this unusual insect, visit the following sites:
I found a very interesting and informative video for you. Enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed this week’s buggy post. It is a bit of a creepy looking bug, but still a wonder of nature. I’m sure you agree.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!