Goliath Stick Insect Fact File
Credit: fir0002 flagstaffotos [at] gmail.com. Canon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, GFDL 1.2 <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html>, via Wikimedia Commons
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The goliath stick insect is one of the larger species of stick found in their native home of Australia. They are one of an estimated 150 stick insect species found in Australia.
Here they spend most of their life in the treetops where they will feed on eucalypt and acacia leaves.
Females can produce up to 1000 eggs in their lifetime with these eggs not needing to be fertilized by a male. If this does not take place though they will only produce female hatchlings.
These animals are mostly threatened by the increase in fire events within the range.
Read on to learn more about these incredible invertebrates.
What does the goliath stick insect look like?
Goliath stick insects are covered green across much of their body. They have blue spots and pink stripes on their chest and thorax.
Their coloration provides highly successful camouflage against the trees in their forested habitats.
On either side of the body are three legs for a total of six. Small hooks are present at the end of each foot to help them cling on to trees. Protruding from the head are a pair of antennae which can help them to sense their environment.
Female stick insects have small wings but are unable to fly. In males the wings cover much of their back and allow them to take flight. This is an adaptation which allows the males to fly and seek out females to mate with.
On the wings they have bright pink coloration which can be used as part of a display when they are threatened.
These animals reach lengths of up to 25cm (10in) long. Males are typically smaller in size than the females.
What does the goliath stick insect eat?
Goliath stick insects are primarily herbivorous. They will feed on the leaves of Acacia and Eucalpytus plants.
Credit: Arthur Chapman, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Where can you find the goliath stick insect?
Australia is the native home of the goliath stick insect. Their range covers parts of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.
What kind of environment does the goliath stick insect live in?
These animals will make their home in woodlands and rainforests. They have been recorded from gardens and parks.
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How does the goliath stick insect produce its young?
Stick insects are capable of parthenogenic reproduction meaning the females can lay fertile eggs without ever having mated.
Their eggs resemble small seeds helping them to avoid attention when dropped on the forest floor. Across her life a female may deposit as many as 1000 eggs. These eggs may be collected by ants who carry them to their burrow for storage away from predators.
It may take between 3 and 9 months for the eggs to hatch after being laid.
Juveniles begin their life colored brown after emerging from the egg. As they grow they will shed their exoskeleton reveling a larger body below each time. During this they will take on the green coloration of the adults.
A small scoop at the end of the body helps them to spread their eggs through their habitat.
What does the goliath stick insect do with its day?
These animals spend most of their time hanging upside down in the trees which they feed on.
If a stick insect falls from a tree the females can use their wings like a parachute to help them float to the ground without getting hurt.
Predators and Threats
What is impacting the survival of the goliath stick insect?
Natural predators of the goliath stick insect include birds of prey.
When threatened these insects will throw open their wings and let out a hiss. They will sway from side-to-side with the wind in an attempt to camouflage with the tree.
Population trends for this species have not been recorded. In much of their range the species is considered common.
These insects are threatened by the increasing frequency of fires in their range.
Small amounts of collection to supply the pet trade also occur.
The female goliath stick insect is believed to be the heaviest of the estimated 150 species of stick insect in Australia.
Credit: CSIRO, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Rudolf, E. & Brock, P. 2017. Eurycnema goliath. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T79003367A79003460. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T79003367A79003460.en. Downloaded on 16 October 2021.
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Aucklandzoo.co.nz. 2021. Goliath Stick Insect | Australian Insects & Bugs | Auckland Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.aucklandzoo.co.nz/animals/goliath-stick-insect> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
2021. Goliath Stick Insect. [ebook] Minibeast Wildlife, pp.1-2. Available at: <https://shop.minibeastwildlife.com.au/content/Minibeast%20Wildlife%20Care%20Guide%20-%20Eurycnema%20goliath.pdf> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
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