New Species of Stick Insect is Second Largest Insect in the World
Belgian biologists have discovered three new stick insect species in Vietnam. One of them is 32 centimetres long and the second largest insect on earth.
In the jungle of Vietnam, biologists of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) have discovered two new species and one new subspecies of Phasmatodea – the scientific name for stick insects or phasmids. One of the three, Phryganistria heusii yentuensis, is 32 centimeters long (54 cm with forelimbs stretched out) and is officially the second biggest living insect that has been described. Only one other stick insect is bigger (Phobaeticus chani from Borneo, almost 36 cm).
During their expeditions the researchers collected also dozens of other yet undescribed stick insect species. In years to come, it will certainly more than double the number of known stick insects in Vietnam . The three newly found species are described in the open-access journal European Journal of Taxonomy.
Stick-bugs live at night and are known for effectively replicating the forms of sticks and leaves. Some species perform a rocking motion mimicking the movement of leaves or twigs.
Sometimes sticks eat forest
Joachim Bresseel and Jérôme Constant of the RBINS have been training Vietnamese biologists to build a reference collection of insects and to identify stick insects. Most stick insects are harmless, but at least three species were reported as serious pests in forests of southern China, sometimes defoliating several ha of forest, with numbers of 5000 stick insects per single tree!
You can admire two of the new species, Phryganistria tamdaoensis and Phryganistria heusii yentuensis (the second largest insect in the World) in the Vivarium of the Museum of Natural Sciences (Insect Hall). Some reference specimens are sent to the Vietnam National Museum of Nature in Hanoi.
This study is part of the Global Taxonomy Initiative and was financed by the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DGD)