Lord Howe Island Stick Insect
Scientific Name: Dryococelus australis
Other Common Names: Lord Howe Island Phasmid, Land Lobster
Species documented in 1855 by Montrouzier.
The Lord Howe Island stick insect is golden honey brown in colour, with a white stripe down its side. Females grow to a length of 12cm, and males up to 10.6cm. They are large heavy bodied insects. These species are reported to be nocturnal.
Captive breeding programs are bringing this species back from the brink of extinction. The young insects are bright green resemblants of the adult insects.
Only twenty Lord Howe Island stick insects were found confined to a single bush atop Balls Pyramid; a volcanic sphere 23 kms south east of Lord Howe Island.
In 2003, two breeding pairs were collected from Balls Pyramid, one pair sent to a Sydney private breeder, and the other to Melbourne Zoo.
Planning is underway to eradicate rats from Lord Howe Island, so this species can once again be reintroduced to its natural habitat.
In 1921 the Lord Howe Island stick insect was pronounced extinct. In 2001, the stick insect was rediscovered by Nick Carlile and Dean Hiscox on Balls Pyramid off Lord Howe Island.
The stick insects became extinct after black rats invaded Lord Howe when the supply ship Mokambo ran aground in 1918. The rats consumed the insect to an assumed extinction.
The Lord Howe Island stick insect is being labelled the ‘rarest insect in the world’.
ABC, 14th Feb 2001. News in Science – Giant stick insect rediscovered, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Available from: <http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s245820.htm>. [Accessed 19th January 2007]
Priddel, David. 2006. Fathering new Phasmids, Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife. Available from: <http://www.fnpw.com.au/enews2/Phasmids.htm> [Accessed 19th January 2007]
Priddel, D., N. Carlile, M. Humphrey, S. Fellenberg & D. Hiscox (2003) Rediscovery of the ‘extinct’ Lord Howe Island stick-insect (Dryococelus australis (Montrouzier)) (Phasmatodea) and recommendations for its conservation in Biodiversity and Conservation 12(7) : Page(s) 1391-1403