Once again Zooillogix reader-in-the-field extraordinaire Tweet Gainsborough-Waring (yes, that is her real awesome name), delivers the steamy shots you all have been unwittingly waiting for:
Peppermint Stick Insects getting down in Queensland, Australia!
LonelyPeppermintStick23 – Looking for a male who knows his way around an ovipositor and isn’t afraid to get kinky with your Malpighian tubules? Call tonight as I only live for another 3 days.
Tweet was kind enough to share the following info on these stunning critters:
The spikey -leaved pandanus palms bordering the beach provide the perfect habitat for the Peppermint Stick insect (Megacrania batesii) which is only found along the beaches of Cape Tribulation, Innisfail and Mission Beach, a stone’s throw from the Daintree rainforest.
Masters of camouflage they are not easy to see as they lie in tender embrace along the rib of the palm leaf. The giveaway is to look for the leaves which have been eaten. The females are not big movers as they feed, shelter, mate and lay eggs in this virtually self-contained habitat.
The females emit a pheromone to attract males when ready to breed, and once laid the eggs roll down into the axil of the leaf where they incubate.
They are slender in shape ranging from different shades of green, to almost blue. At first glance it looked to me almost like a syringe or chemical phial its colour and delineation of shape was so perfect. Although they have six legs they use only their fore and mid legs to move
Both male and female insects have wings, with those of the male larger than the female. The bigger wings are to enable the males to fly longer distances in search of a mate.
The wings also act as a defence mechanism against predators like birds, normally folded neatly along the body they can be quickly opened to provide a flash of colour, enough to stop a predator momentarily in its tracks and allow the insect to escape.
Their common name is derived from the substance they emit if frightened which has a distinct peppermint smell.
More info here http://www.wettropics.gov.au/pa/pa_stick_insects.html