Philippines stick insect discovery


The newly discovered stick insects

From the BBC:

4 September 2012

Last updated at 04:04

‘Mystery’ stick insect discovered

By Matt Walker

Editor, BBC Nature

A mysterious new species of stick insect has been discovered living in the Philippines by scientists.

The stick insect is wingless, lives on the ground rather than in trees, and is spectacularly coloured, having a green-blue head and orange body.

The insect also vents a foul-smelling spray to deter predators.

The stick insect is so unique that scientists have given it its own genus and do not yet know its relationship to other stick and leaf insects.

“Recently a colleague, entomologist Oskar Conle, showed us some museum specimens of a strange-looking stick insect found several years ago on Mount Halcon, a remote locality in the Philippine island of Mindoro,” explains Marco Gottardo, who is studying for a PhD at the University of Siena, Italy.

The insect was found on the third highest mountain in the archipelago, which is considered one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world.

“We were baffled. It looked so different from any other known stick insect in the world that we immediately realised it was something very special.” …

The scientists have published details of the discovery in the journal Comptes Rendus Biologies.

A microbe in the gut of a stick insect could help scientists to unravel the puzzle of antibiotic resistance. The giant lime green stick insect, which feeds mainly on eucalyptus leaves, is being studied at the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich: here.

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