A Chinese stick insect was recently declared the world’s longest bug, stretching 24.6 inches. The creepy crawler is of the new genus Phryganistria, considered among the largest bugs on Earth. The twig-sized bug beats the previous record-holder — another stick insect discovered in 2008 — by nearly 3 inches.
Here are a few cool facts about stick insects:
Stick insects can regenerate their limbs after attacks by predators
If a predator grabs a stick insect’s leg, it can still make an escape. In fact, the stick insect will give up the leg, using a special muscle to break it off. Why? Stick insects will regenerate the missing limb the next time they molt.
Stick insects act like … sticks
Stick insects are obviously named for their camouflage abilities. They’re usually brown, black or green, and have stick-shaped bodies that help them blend in to their environment. Some even wear lichen-like markings to make their disguise more authentic. Stick insects imitate twigs swaying in the wind by rocking back and forth as they move.
Stick insect eggs resemble seeds scattered about the forest floor.
Stick insect mothers drop eggs randomly on the forest floor, leaving the youngsters to fend for themselves once their born. Seem harsh? By spreading her eggs out, she lessens the chance that a predator will find them all at once and eat them. Plus, the eggs resemble seeds. That means, most predators aren’t interested. Some stick insects actually make an effort to hide their eggs, sticking them to leaves or bark or burying them in the soil.
Stick insects don’t bite, but they aren’t defenseless.
If threatened, a stick insect will use whatever means necessary to thwart its attacker. Some will regurgitate a nasty substance that will put a bad taste in a hungry predator’s mouth. Others reflex bleed, oozing a foul-smelling hemolymph from joints in their body. Some of the large, tropical stick insects may use their leg spines, which help them climb, to inflict some pain on an enemy. Stick insects may even direct a chemical spray, much like tear gas, at the offender.
Not all stick insects are boring brown.
Some stick insects can change color, like a chameleon, depending on the background where they’re at rest. Stick insects may also wear bright colors on their wings, but keep these flamboyant features tucked away. When a bird or other predator approaches, the stick insect will flash the vibrant wings, then hide them again, leaving the predator confused and unable to relocate its target.
Stick insects hold the record for longest insects in the world.
In 2008, a newly discovered stick insect species from Borneo broke the record for longest insect (which had previously been held by another stick insect, Pharnacia serratipes). The Chan’s megastick, Phobaeticus chain, measures an incredible 22 inches with legs extended, with a body length of 14 inches.