Saturday, August 14, 2010

Walking leaf

There is a bunch of insects that is commonly referred to as 'stick insect' or 'leaf insect'. The bunch comprises both these - and the variety in them is considerable. They belong to an order of animals called "Phasmatodea" - meaning 'phantom' and is a reflection of their now-you-see-them-now-you-don't appearance. Not only do they closely resemble leaves or twigs, but they have adapted so much that even their movements are not regular - they swing and jerk along, for all in the world like a leaf blown by the breeze.

One of them took up residence in the bougainvilla on our balcony. It came perilously close to being brushed off as a dead leaf, but luckily, it dropped down and moved its head to and fro, so we let it climb back on to the plant. With small "foliaceous expansions" - leaflike ornamentation -on its joints, it was extremely difficult spotting it once it was back on the plant. Because it was rather lazy, it didn't move around too much and that made it easier to spot day after day. And yet, a few days later, it disappeared completely. I don't think I have seen anything like it earlier and all the checking of pictures on the internet has not thrown up anything similar. They say that the order Phylliidae is constantly being expanded, with newer species coming up all the time. Well, here's one Phasmid from Chennai to add to the list!


P.N. Subramanian said...

Nice one. It could also have been photographed after it climbed up.

Shantaram said...

@PNS: Couldn't spot it in those pictures! :o