Postcard 2 - Stick Insect

A giant stick insect in defense posture.
Photo by: Yu Zeng, Aug 2009, Malay Peninsula

Integrative Biology postcard mailer

Yu Zeng, is an IB Grad student who works on wing evolution and flight biomechanics in stick insects in the Wake and Dudley Labs.
An adult female of Jungle Nymph Stick Insect (Heteropteryx dilatata) was found hanging six feet above the ground, when the photographer was exploring a rainforest at midnight. This huge insect was disturbed and immediately exposed her hind-legs and abdomen armed with sharp spines. The spines are particularly long on hind-legs, and thus a fast jabbing would cause a bleeding wound. Accompanying such defensive display are hissing sounds produced by her rubbing hind-wings against fore-wings. A combination of these warning signals can effectively frighten the potential predators.
Stick insects are members of the order Phasmatodea, and they are close relatives of grasshoppers and locusts. They are very famous for their camouflage abilities, often seen mimicking the appearances of sticks and leaves. Yet hiding is not the only option of defense, many species use startle displays, like in this example, and some other species can readily takeoff and fly away with fully developed wings.