There is a fisheries guy I work with who often will ask during a long day of field work “What’s your favorite fish?” And we’ll go around the field crew and talk about what everyone’s favorite fish is at that moment. It could be a species we are catching (woundfin), one we are hoping to catch (Virgin river chub), something weird and nightmarish (goliath tigerfish), or even lunch (I eat tuna on the river. A lot).
Anyway, my colleague usually sticks to talking about fish species. But if he ever asks about insects, I have my favorite. It’s the Lord Howe Island stick insect. It’s huge, it’s creepy, it was used as fish bait because it was common on Australia’s Lord Howe Island. However, like many island species are really specialized and don’t deal well with predators and this amazing insect was apparently wiped out by introduced rodents some time ago. However, there is a nearby smaller island, a rocky crag jutting out of the ocean, that just maybe could harbor the stick insects. Some entomologists went there in 2001. After waiting for the seas to calm, they made a landing on this jagged rock.
The entomologists came to prove that the stick insect had gone extinct. Climbing the spire of rock, they found nothing. Climbing back down the spire, they found a bush in a small crack. This single bush was the only real plant on the rock. And the plant was growing in a small crevice that held a tiny volume of soil. And on that soil, they found “a large poo.”
The next day, they climbed back up to the plant and found, on the bush, two adult stick insects. In total, they found a population of 24 insects under and around the one bush. Some were collected and taken to a zoo in New South Wales and they were successfully bred. It took a lot of work and dedication by a team of scientists and it’s a great story.
So that’s my favorite insect. And it has been my favorite since I heard the story.
So you can imagine how delighted I was to see an amazing video of one of these stick insects hatching. Enjoy.