Giant Leaf Insect Fact File
The giant leaf insect has some of the best camouflage of any animal. Their appearance is an almost exact mimic of the leaves on which they feed right down to the veins through the leaf. They have a lime green body with a brown edge and two brown dots on their back.
As an insect they have six legs. The front legs have a larger upper half colored similar to the body. On top of their head are a pair of short antennae.
Females have small forewings lying on either edge of the abdomen. These have the same vein pattern as their body. Males have much larger hind wings and can fly which the females are incapable of.
The body of a giant leaf insect can measure up to 10cm (4in) long.
Giant leaf insects feed solely on leaves making them a herbivore. These may come from oak, guava and mango trees.
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The giant leaf insect is a native of Malaysia.
They make their home in the canopy of the forest.
Females will start to lay eggs within 1 to 1.5 months of molting to maturity. The small, brown-black eggs (shown above) resemble a seed helping them to avoid predation.
Females are parthenogenetic and they are able to produce viable eggs without them being fertilized by a male. Few males have been found in the wild and very few are present in captive collections.
The eggs take six to nine months to hatch.
Hatchlings resemble smaller versions of the adult. They will grow to adult size by molting their skin at regular intervals.
Giant leaf insects will sway in the breeze which helps them to avoid detection by predators. When walking they move slowly with a swaying gait. Every few steps they freeze for a short period.
The giant leaf insect is able to regenerate its legs. If one is lost they will gain a new one next time they molt. This ability stops once they reach adult size.
Most of their activity takes place at night.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators include birds.
If threatened they will sit incredibly still and attempt to blend in as leaf to avoid detection.
The giant leaf insect is sometimes kept as a pet.
Until 1994 it was thought that there were only female Malaysian leaf insects until a single male was discovered.
By Drägüs – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3676094
By User:Strobilomyces – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9525666
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