Christmas Bells

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Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Margin-winged Stick Insect in Robertson.

My friend Melissa met me at the Service Station in Robbo today and asked me to have a look at a "Preying Mantis". It had been gripping onto the wing mirror of her vehicle - not a good career move for any insect. I was able to say it was a type of "Stick Insect", and as I knew it was a vegetarian, I was confident enough to allow it to crawl onto my hand. (Apparently some Stick Insects do pinch with their claws, or worse, some "spray" unpleasant fluids, but this one was very polite.) It immediately climbed up my arms (they can move surprisingly quickly, on account of their very long legs). It then perched on top of my blue hat, much to the amusement of Melissa's daughter Paris!

Of course, I did not have my camera with me.
How often have I said: "Never leave home without your Camera, Denis!" ?

Fortunately Steve at the Servo was able to provide me with a box, long enough to make a temporary home for this insect, until I could get it home, to photograph it, and then release it.

Here is the full body of this long-legged insect.
It is a near perfect match for this insect on Donald Hobern's insects set.
He identified his insect as Ctenomorpha marginipennis
The Margin-winged Stick-Insect.

Note (in the shot above) how the wings are clearly visible (thickened part), and cover about two-thirds of the abdomen. Males have longer wings, as they fly around in search of females.

Here is its head, close-up, showing the
two laterally positioned large main eyes
and three "occelli" (primitive eyes) arranged in a triangle,
(Click to enlarge the view)
Here is another view of the head and mouth.
There is a basic structural similarity with the face of the insect. in Donald Hobern's shot.
Here is a shot of its wings and lower abdomen.
Here is its tail, complete with "cerci".
In males they are larger, and used as "claspers" (similarly to Dragonflies).
I think this insect might be a female.***

*** Donald Hobern has advised:
"The projecting lump below the abdomen in your photo is the operculum or 'subgenital plate' of a male. Females have a longer, more boat-shaped operculum.

"The combination of size, prominent cerci and prominent ocelli (again a male characteristic) rules out any other species in this part of the country."

Here is a very poor shot of the Stick Insect having been released safely outside.
I have previously reported on three very different species of Stick Insects. One was an endemic (local) species - the Tessellated Phasmid Stick Insect; one was the "Laboratory Stick Insect" (from India) - which was "pet"; and one other, the very spectacular "Goliath Stick Insect", (which was also a "pet") - it comes originally from Queensland, but was raised by CSIRO, and given away to a school child, as part of an "Open Day" promotion for the Division of Entomology.

8 comments:

swampythings said...

Hi Denis, great close-up shots of the stick insect; they're fascinating creatures.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks for the comment.
I notice that you and I have both published items about long thin insects. At least they are vegetarian insects, and not too much of a threat (to us).
Just imagine if Mozzies or Robber Flies were as large as these guys. I wouldn't have let it walk up my arm if it had a taste for blood.
Cheers
Denis

Denis Wilson said...

Denis says:
I have received the following advice from Donald Hobern:
.
Denis,
.
Nice to see your report. There's a new guide to Australian stick insects: http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/20/pid/6012.htm (it was how I identified my stick insect).
.
Yours certainly seems to be Ctenomorpha marginipennis and I think it is actually a male. The projecting lump below the abdomen in your photo is the operculum or 'subgenital plate' of a male. Females have a longer, more boat-shaped operculum.
.
The combination of size, prominent cerci and prominent ocelli (again a male characteristic) rules out any other species in this part of the country.
.
Very best wishes,
.
Donald
*************
There speaks an Entomologist, as distinct from an amateur naturalist. Good of Donald to offer confirmation of the species, and to correct the record on the status of the sex of this insect.

Thanks Donald.
Denis

Duncan said...

Nice one Denis, interesting insects for sure.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Duncan
Yes, I didn't realise quite how interesting till I got it up close and personal.
I had thought it was very plain compared to a Tessellated Phasmid I found a while back, but, it turned out to be just as interesting.
Those little Occelli remind me of what Cicadas have, which kids call "Jewels".
Great to have help from Donald, to confirm, and gently correct.
Denis

Tyto Tony said...

If mozzies were as big they'd be easier to swat in the middle of the night. ;-)

catmint said...

thanks for photos and info, stick insects are fascinating creatures,unfortunately I haven't seen one in my garden for at least a year.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi TOny
If Mozzies were that big, then after one suck, you'd be in need of a transfusion!
Hi Catmint.
I like Macro photography, for it reveals stuff we have no idea about, generally. The world within a world.
Cheers
Denis