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World’s Second Longest Insect Discovered in Vietnam

January 9th, 2015

World’s Second Longest Insect Discovered in Vietnam

You think small spiders or itsy bitsy mosquitoes are bad? How about this 32cm long insect? That’s more than a foot long! Those tiny bugs seem quite small in comparison, don’t they? When fully extended, this ‘little’ guy can reach up to 52cm long, just a little under two feet!

In Vietnam, biologists travelling through the thick jungles have discovered two new species ofPhasmatodea, also known as ‘Stick Insects’. The newly found species, Phryganistria heusii yentuensi, is the second longest insect known to date! In first place is another species of stick insect called Phobaeticus chani, found in Indonesia, who currently measures a whopping 36cm in length.

Stick insects have been around for about 40 million years as shown by the fossil record, and have over 3,000 different species. They are closely related to cockroaches and mantids, and even to simple grasshoppers and crickets. They usually live in tropics and subtropics, where they spend their lives as herbivores, living off of the leaves of trees or shrubs. They’re very slow moving, and when attacked instead of fleeing they’ll instead stop moving and play dead. A few variations of species are able to shed their legs in case they need to escape, and have them grow back over time.

Stick insects camouflage extremely well within their surroundings, and can often be exceedingly difficult to spot. Can you spot the stick insect in the following picture?

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