A very prickly character

I reached into a shrub to get rid of a cluster of dry leaves, and the darn thing bit me! This only reinforced my aversion for gardening of any description.

My curiosity was aroused, and I found something quite unusual clinging to a twig or two.

Introducing the mystery “not a bunch of dry leaves.”


That is the hand of my intrepid son, who was coerced into doing this, to give you some sense of the size of the creature. (The insect, not the son.)


I discovered online that the head looks sort of back to front. The chewing bits would be found between the front legs. I did not offer a digit to find out if this was correct information. In fact, when I think about it, that makes perfect sense. If the mouth was on the other side, that would just be daft. Don’t trust online information, folks. (Except mine,Β which is impeccable.Β )


And now I see why the darn thing felt very prickly. It would be a brave predator who attacked this tasty morsel.


Β I found a few interesting things about these insects:

The female Spiny Leaf Insect lays her eggs from a tree where they drop down into the leaf litter. The eggs are collected by ants and carried down into the ant nest and stored as food. The ants feed on the knob on the end of the stick insect egg. When the nymphs hatch from the egg they resemble ants and smell like ants. Before the ants realise the stick insect is an intruder it escapes from the nest and heads for a eucalypt tree where it climbs up to feed on the foliage.

The female insects can lay eggs without the help of a male. This biological miracle is called parthenogenesis and means that all the phasmids born will be female.

The Spiny Leaf Insect is a popular insect pet.




Filed under Atherton, Australia

59 responses to “A very prickly character

  1. How’s that for a sneaky quirk of nature. The original feminist actually. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fascinating creature!! πŸ˜€


  3. Amazing. I have never seen anything like it.


  4. There you see where too much emancipation gets you in the end: All ugly and prickly and still having to do the reproducing thing. πŸ˜› Then again, I am ugly and sometimes prickly without being so self sufficient when it comes to the reproducing department. Not that this can’t be a blessing, too. It made it very easy for me to avoid multiplying.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never seen anything quite like this. I think he’s fantastic, but I’m rather glad he doesn’t turn up in my garden.


  6. Yikes. That is indeed prickly Yvonne. Your son is very brave to put his hand so close to it. I could never. Looks cool though.


  7. You do have some weird creatures Yvonne. I read a letter to the paper that said the writer had heard a magpie in Australia singing sweetly. Is that true?Ours just squawk horribly.


  8. cadeauca

    “The Spiny Leaf Insect is a popular insect pet.”

    I will never understand keeping an insect as a pet. Never. You’re brave to do a photo shoot with that bug, I would’ve screamed!


  9. Have you got anything nice in Dismal Swamp Yvonne ? Even Koalas have claws ! xox ❀


    • Anything nice? Let’s see. Some of the birds are excellent, the platypuses are nice but timid, and I think they have some kind of spine on their tails, the wallabies are pretty but with the added bonus of fleas. Yes, an interesting country, Ralphie. πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes ! The birdies are pretty. I forgot about those πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bert

        You know that male platypuses are one of the very few venomous mammals, don’t you? Apparently, they are only venomous in the breeding season, which would be a comfort if you knew when the breeding season was. Bill Bryson summarised the delights of Australia thus: “It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world’s ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures – the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish – are the most lethal of their type in the world.” And don’t forget the cane toad, an introduced species.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I do have to add that I love gardening….in pots on my patio where I’m less likely to run into the stranger of the critters out there. Although in the Pacific Northwest of the US they don’t get quite so big.
    Flowers….I grow flowers because I got tired of the slugs (speaking of something that does grow big) eating my food. Although they do tend to leave herbs alone also.
    Not sure I would want to venture out into a major garden in your area.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. People keep those fugly things as pets?! Ewww!


  12. I would love some of these in my garden. What great creatures. Not however my choice of pet. Can you really take it for a walk or get it to run in a wheel? I think not. Very photogenic and definitely one I’d like to capture. You lucky thing.


    • I thought of you as I was trying to get some better shots, knowing you would either know what it was or be running to a source of information to find out, Andrew. I was surprised at those spiny processes on its body. It was very well protected.

      Now I’m thinking of all the eggs that have fallen into the mulch and are now sitting in some ant nest, waiting to hatch and start the cycle again.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Yikes! I hope you didn’t have nightmares after encountering that thing.


  14. I wouldn’t keep it as a pet that’s for sure!


  15. yvonne – very cool share – and sorry you were bit – but the shots of this insect are great and cool to hear the symbiotic relations with ants! also, parthenogenesis is interesting – isn;t it?


  16. What an amazing looking creature! I have never really been interested in gardening until we built our mountain house, now I find it fascinating. I have mufloni (wild goats) woodpeckers and fireflies in my garden.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your garden is showing the results of the work you’ve been putting into it, Debra.

      Tell you what. I’ll swap a pair of kookaburras for a pair of woodpeckers. I think you can keep the mufloni, and the darn cane toads would probably eat the fireflies.


  17. It looks like a mini-lobster! ps I share your aversion to gardening.


  18. Wow. Tell your son I’m impressed with his bravery. Wouldn’t catch me putting my hand anywhere near that thing.


  19. I think that considering the number of poisonous snakes you have in your area I’d be using a long stick to remove the dead leaves….or one of those jar grabbers for disabled people to get stuff off the top shelf….that would be perfect for removing (not so) dead leaves off your plants.
    I actually have seen that creature on a program with David Attenborough.


    • I try not to think about what might be sharing my space when I venture into the garden. I’ve seen snakes (venomous and constrictor varieties) a few times when walking around the perimeter of a lake near Dismal Swamp.


      • I’ve seen “Househunters International” that was filmed in Queensland and he was calling in a special squad to get a huge constrictor type snake off his patio.
        I have an aversion to snakes. Just don’t want to walk into one….or reach my hand into where one is. Gives me the shivers to think about it.
        That huge bug would have probably brought out the same kind of reaction.
        But it is fascinating in pictures.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. I know about some of your crazies up that end – I’ve been reading a bit about the up-coming election. And my brother live in Cairns.


  21. Straight out of a horror movie. Yikes!


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