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