Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Lady Gaga-ntuan Was Born (and Died) This Way

The longest stick insect in Australia has been rediscovered in Far North Queensland by bug hunters from Museum Victoria.

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“At half a metre long, this is the Holy Grail of stick insects,” said Maik Fiedel of Museum Victoria. “Compared with other large stick insects, it’s like discovering a person who is almost 3 metres tall.”

The stick insect, nicknamed Lady Gaga-ntuan, was discovered near Cairns and was only the third female of its species to ever be found. Since the initial discovery of a female by a member of the public in 2005, entomologists have been searching the rainforest high and low for other specimens.

“Stick insects have also evolved to be extremely well-camouflaged, which makes finding them difficult,” Fiedel said. “When feeding our stick insects it can take 20 minutes to find them on a small plant.”

Since its collection in January, Lady Gaga-ntuan has passed away, but fortunately it had already laid some eggs. “It’s our hope we’ll be able to breed this species in captivity to learn more about this fascinating creature and the upper canopy in which it lives,” Fiedel said.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.