MacLeay’s spec­tre

The Aus­tralian ant mimic

World of Animals - - Stick Insects -

While many stick in­sects have evolved to blend in among trop­i­cal veg­e­ta­tion, MacLeay’s spec­tre has de­vel­oped a dis­guise that makes it hard to spot against desert plants. Males are slen­der, with small spines and wings, but fe­males take the cac­tus cam­ou­flage to the next level with lobed limbs and big spines.

Should a preda­tor see through the façade, MacLeay’s spec­tre is ready with a back up. Curl­ing its tail over its back, lift­ing its front legs and click­ing, the stick in­sect takes on the ap­pear­ance of an an­gry scor­pion. It can also re­lease a de­fen­sive scent that is said to re­mind peo­ple of tof­fee.

Fe­male spec­tres swing their tails to flick eggs away from them onto the for­est floor. The out­er­most layer is tasty to ants, so the in­sects carry the eggs into their colonies. When the young hatch they look like ants and aren’t iden­ti­fied as in­trud­ers as they scut­tle out of the nest and back to the trees.

Ex­tato­soma tiara­tum

class In­secta

The spec­tre’s abil­ity to curl up its wide, flat body is a cru­cial part of its de­fen­sive scor­pion dis­play. Gi­ant prickly stick in­sect or Macleay’s spec­tre ter­ri­tory Aus­tralia and New Guinea

Diet Eu­ca­lyp­tus leaves

life­span Males 9 months, fe­males up to 18 months

adult weight Males 10g (0.4oz), fe­males 25g (0.9oz)

con­ser­va­tion sta­tus

Least con­cern

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