Macleay’s Spectre

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Macleay's SpectreGenus: Extatosoma
Species: Extatosoma tiaratum
Common names: Giant Prickly Stick Insect, Macleay’s Spectre
ALA reference

I found this large stick insect feeding on the leaves of a Trema tomentosa (Poison Peach) bush. It is a female and this species has evolved so that the females no longer develop wings. The vestigial wing pads can be seen on her back below the middle pair of legs. The males are much smaller and lighter and still develop wings and so can fly to the females for mating. The female spends most of her time hanging upside down, as shown in the photo, feeding on leaves. She is reasonably well camouflaged in the undergrowth for protection from predators. Nevertheless she would make a fine meal for a large bird such as a kookaburra or crested hawk. It’s exciting to see animals such as this returning to the area of bush that is being restored. (March 2009)