While harvesting Feijoas back in May I came across a rather large and magnificent stick insect. It was blending in with its environment so well I only saw it when it moved – only inches away from the fruit I was about to pick!
Its body was around 100mm long, so add the legs to that and it was quite an impressive sight.
Having been disturbed, it moved around the bush with relative ease, stopping now and then to chew on a leaf or park up in a sunny spot for a bit, slowly waving its front legs in the air.
Amongst other things, an ID confirmation on iNaturalist makes me feel pretty confident that this is a ‘Prickly Stick Insect’ – Acanthoxyla prasina, a contender for the New Zealand Bug of the Year in 2023.
iNaturalist.nz: Observations of Acanthoxyla prasina
Wikipedia: Information on Acanthoxyla prasina
Radio New Zealand (Critter of the Week): Prickly Stick Insect
Some interesting info from the Bug of the Year website:
‘There are over 3000 species of stick insects around the world, with around 20 of those calling Aotearoa home. Stick insects are renowned as masters of camouflage, and their crypticity and resemblance to twigs/leaves is well documented. Most stick insect species live in trees and shrubs, feeding on the leaves. One alpine species has been also found on tussock.
Stick insects remain still during the day, using their appearance and behaviour to appear cryptic. They are active at night, moving around to search for food and mates.
Prickly stick insect exists in green and brown morphs, with a range of black tipped spines along their body. They are fairly large insects, measuring between 8 cm to 10 cm in length. In this species, there are only females! Females reproduce by mechanism know as obligate parthenogenesis, a mode of asexual reproduction. Eggs hatch in Spring and Summer, and nymphs go through several moults to get to adulthood.
Interestingly, this genus of stick insects was accidentally introduced in England in the early 1900’s. A population has now established and is thriving in Cornwall and Devon.’
More New Zealand Nature Videos:
Videos from Kaikōura, New Zealand:
- Ōhau Point Fur Seal Colony – Kaikōura
- Seals at the Otumatu Wildlife Reserve – Kaikōura
- Hapuku Beach at Dusk – Kaikōura