Oct 18, 2008

World - Longest Insect Discovered

London: Nearly the length of a human arm, a stick bug from Borneo is the world’s longest insect, said British scientists.

The specimen was found by a local villager and handed to Malaysian amateur naturalist Datuk Chan Chew Lun in 1989, according to Philip Bragg. The insect was named Phobaeticus chani, or “Chan’s megastick,” in Mr. Chan’s honour.

Paul Brock, a scientific associate of the Natural History Museum in London unconnected to the animal’s discovery said there was no doubt it was the longest extant insect ever found. Looking more like a solid shoot of bamboo than its smaller, frailer cousins, the dull-green insect measures about 56.7 cm, if its delicate, twig-like legs are counted. There are 35.7 cm from the tip of its head to the bottom of its abdomen, beating the previous record body length, held by Phobaeticus kirbyi, also from Borneo, by about 2.9 cm. ”Their main defense is basically hanging around, looking like a twig,” Brock said. ”It will even sway in the wind.”

Stick bugs, also known as phasmids, have some of the animal kingdom’s cleverest camouflage. Though some phasmids use noxious sprays or prickly spines to deter their predators, generally the bugs assume the shape of sticks and leaves to avoid drawing attention.For Mr. Bragg, the discovery showed the urgency of conservation work. — AP

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