The largest species of stick insect is the recently discovered pencil-thin Chan’s Megastick, a Borneo native that has been bestowed the title of World’s longest insect.
How big can they get?
A specimen held at London’s Natural History Museum measures an impressive 357 millimetres (14 inches) without its front legs outstretched which pretty much makes it the length of your arm. When its legs are stretched it measures a whopping 567 millimetres.
What does it eat?
Very little is known about the chan megastick in particular, but like other stick insects it dines on plant and tree leaves. Most likely it eats leaves from the highest canopies of the rainforest, making it hard to spot.
How does it eat?
It simply uses its mandibles to cut and chew vegetation. It has excellent eyesight, something that is particularly useful as it is a nocturnal creature.
How dangerous is it?
Chan megastick, like the majority of stick insect species are perfectly harmless to humans. There are a few notable exceptions, namely the Southern Two-Striped Walking Stick which can dispel a harmful chemical substance if threatened. This chemical spray may have the potency to cause blindness if it makes contacts with your eyes.
How many are left?
To date, only three chan megasticks have been found in the wild – all in the rainforest on the island of Borneo. For the most part stick insect populations remain stable. Although, Australia’s Lord Howe Island stick insect is critically endangered.
The eggs of the chan’s megastick each have winged like extensions making them unique in the insect world. Whereas other stick insects lay their eggs individually and flick them in to the air where they fall to the ground, it appears that the chan megastick simply flicks its eggs into the air where they can be picked up by the wind and carried away from the tree. This is pretty smart as it increases the dispersal of the eggs and means that the young don’t climb up the same tree as the parents and start competing for the same food. Finally it’s worth mentioning that any stick insect could easily win a game of hide and seek thanks to its natural camouflage. It’s virtually impossible to spot the creature in its natural habitat, making it one of the world’s greatest masters of disguise.