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main page > introduction > a few words about phasmids

   .: A few words about phasmids

Phasmids are insects which live mainly in the tropical regions, however some species can be found in subtropical and mid-latitude regions. They belong to biggest insects in the world. The biggest registered specimen (Phobaeticus serratipes), measured over 55cm in length including front legs. Amongst giants one can encounter small phasmids, that measure 4-5cm in length.
Despite the fact that all species from Phasmodea family are called phasmids, breeders have divided them into 3 types: stick insects, phasmids and leaf insects. Stick insects have a slim body, delusively resembling a thin stick. On the other hand leaf insects resemble, as you might expect, leafs. Veins that can be seen on theirs body and lightly browned rims of abdomen make the insects almost invisible on a branch with leaves. Insects from Phamodea family that are not classified as leaf or stick insects are called phasmids.
Reproducing is as amazing as their looks. Some of them reproduce only sexually (Heteropteryx dilatata), some reproduce only by parthenogenesis (Carausius morosus), some reproduce sexually, but when opposite gender is not around they breed by parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis means reproduce without impregnation. Female lays unfertilized ova, from which after certain time young insects (larva) emerge.
Phasma literally means a ghost. So, if You, dear internet user, don't believe in ghosts there is a living proof. This statement is not far from truth. Phasmids, like ghosts, can suddenly disappear among branches and leafs. That is probably why they received their Latin name. The "disappearing" trick is possible thanks to shape and color of the body and unique ability to stay motionless for hours. Sometimes when a gentle wind blows, or you blow gently on a bug it starts to rock, imitating a leaf moved by the wind. Not all species are mild. Some secrete toxic substances (Anisomorpha paromalus), other fiercely attack a life threatening object (Eurycantha calcarata, Extatosoma tiaratum). This object may be a predator or a breeders hand...

fot. Eric Belleville

fot. Adam Popiel

Author: Adam Popiel
Translation: Tomasz Podgórski