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Giant Leaf Insect Fact File

Appearance

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.

Diet

Giant leaf insects feed solely on leaves making them a herbivore. These may come from oak, guava and mango trees.

giant leaf insect

Scientific Name

Phyllium giganteum

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Length

10cm (4in)

Diet

Herbivorous

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Range

The giant leaf insect is a native of Malaysia.

Habitat

They make their home in the canopy of the forest.

giant leaf insect

Reproduction

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.

Behavior

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.

giant leaf insect

Predators and Threats

Natural predators include birds.

If threatened they will sit incredibly still and attempt to blend in as leaf to avoid detection.

Quick facts

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.

Photo Gallery

giant leaf insect

Photo Credits

Top Two

Public Domain

Middle

By Drägüs – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3676094

Bottom

By User:Strobilomyces – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9525666

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK


Stlzoo.org. 2020. Javanese Leaf Insect | Saint Louis Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/invertebrates/insects/grasshopperskatydidscricke/javaneseleafinsect> [Accessed 5 October 2020].


Sfzoo.org. 2020. San Francisco Zoo – Hours. [online] Available at: <http://www.sfzoo.org/animals/invertebrates/leafinsects.htm> [Accessed 5 October 2020].


Keepinginsects.com. 2020. Giant Leaf Insect Phyllium Giganteum | Keeping Insects. [online] Available at: <https://www.keepinginsects.com/stick-insect/species/giant-leaf-insect-psg-72/> [Accessed 5 October 2020].


Raupp, M., 2020. Destination Malaysia: Home Of The Giant Leaf Insect, ‘Phyllium Giganteum’ — Bug Of The Week. [online] Bug of the Week. Available at: <http://bugoftheweek.com/blog/2019/1/21/destination-malaysia-home-of-the-giant-leaf-insect-phyllium-giganteum> [Accessed 5 October 2020].

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