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Extatosoma tiaratum

  • Live collection
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal, René Limoges
Extatosoma tiaratum.
  • Extatosoma tiaratum.
  • Extatosoma tiaratum.
  • Extatosoma tiaratum.

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When it first emerges from the egg, a giant prickly stick insect resembles a large brownish-red ant. The adults are sandy brown with flattened, leaf-shape legs. Males are 10 cm long with slender bodies. Females are 10 to 16 cm long with wider bodies. Males’ wings are more developed than females’. Males have only four spines on their backs, while females have two rows of spines.

Country of origin

French name
Phasme à tiare
Scientific name
Extatosoma tiaratum
English name
Giant prickly stick insect
Living environment


They are phytophagous, feeding on eucalyptus leaves.


They live in trees.

Geographic distribution

They are found in Australia.

Ecological role

Stick insects are part of the food chain. Other animals, including spiders, birds, reptiles and amphibians, feed on them.

Special behaviour

When males are disturbed, they adopt a defensive stance, spreading their wings and flying away if necessary. Females’ rudimentary wings do not allow them to fly, so they use another defensive strategy: they curve their abdomens, making them look somewhat like scorpions. These are fairly lively, quick-moving stick insects.

Interesting facts


This is a common species, very popular among insect breeders.

Interesting facts and curiosities

Ants are fond of the eggs of these stick insects, and take them into their galleries, where they eat only the top portion of the eggs. This protects the future stick insects from other predators. Once they emerge, the stick insect nymphs quickly leave the ants’ nest to feed, mimicking the ants’ movements. Stick insects belong to the order Phasmida, named for the Greek word “phasma”, which means apparition or ghost.

In addition to reproducing sexually, stick insects are able to reproduce by means of parthenogenesis: females can lay fertile eggs without being fertilized by a male. Such eggs produce only females.

At the Insectarium

In captivity, giant prickly stick insects are usually fed guava leaves, because the plant is easy to cultivate in a greenhouse.

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