Malaysian Walking Leaf

Heteropteryx dilatata

Can you find the insect in this photo? Maybe yes, after looking carefully around the middle. However, what dad missed completely while shooting this picture was the second one! He thought he was shooting just one insect, the green one, and when he got the picture developed he went "Omigod! there's another one there!" This "other one" is the brown male, which is riding on top of the green female (hanging from her, actually). Male walking leaves often ride like that on females, and not for the reason that you think! Nope. They just go in pairs, like that.

These are very interesting insects. Females can be very large, up to 17 cm long (6.5 in) which makes them among the largest insects (if not the largest ones; but not the longest ones -- see Giant Walking Stick). They are green and have a rudimentary pair of wings, with veins and brown areas resembling dead spots on leaves! But they are unable to fly. Males are brown, shorter (up to 12 cm), have longer wings and are capable of flying. They undergo a series of moltings as they grow (usually up to six times), in which they shed the old skin. The female has an ovipositor at the tip of its tail, a tube for laying eggs (seen clearly in the picture).

The picture above was taken at the Cincinnati Zoo, in May 2001.

Subfamily Heteropteryginae
Family Bacillidae
Order Phasmatodea
Superorder Orthopteroids
Subclass Neoptera
Class Insecta
Subphylum Uniramia
Phylum Arthropoda
Kingdom Animalia
Life on Earth