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Sipyloidea sipylus

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Photo: Insectarium de Montréal, Laurent Desaulniers

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Description

These stick insects have antennae longer than their front legs. Their medium-size wings are tan, almost transparent, in the males and pink in the females. The males resemble the females, but are shorter and more slender. The females are 9 cm long on average, while the males (raised in captivity) are about 5 cm.

Country of origin

Madagascar
French name
Phasme
Scientific name
Sipyloidea sipylus
English name
Pink winged stick insect
Class
Insecta
Order
Phasmatodea
Family
Phasmatidae
Living environment

Diet

In Madagascar, they feed on cotton plants. In southeast Asia, they eat various jungle plants.

Habitat

Treetops in the tropical forest

Geographic distribution

Southeast Asia, eastern India and Australia. Species introduced to Madagascar.

Ecological role

They are phytophagous (plant-eating) insects that help maintain the balance of nature in their habitat.

Special behaviour

They use their wings mainly to control their speed and direction when they drop from the treetops. The females are clumsy flyers, and simply beat their wings to break their fall. The males are much better flyers.

When disturbed, they secrete a foul-smelling substance from their mouthparts. They also frighten off enemies by holding their wings open for several seconds.

These stick insects reproduce by parthenogenesis, meaning that the eggs laid by the female do not need to be fertilized by a male.

Interesting facts

Status

The species is common in its range.

Interesting facts and curiosities

The name sypilus (from the Greek) refers to a mountain where, according to legend, Niobe was changed into a rock after her children were slain.

Because stick insects can regenerate lost limbs, they can afford to leave a leg behind if it is seized by a predator. The leg will grow back over the course of the following moults. This species of stick insect is used in research to better understand the phenomenon.

At the Insectarium

In captivity they are fed oak leaves.

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