Fun Spiny Leaf Insect Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Oct 20, 2022 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Amazing spiny leaf insect facts that you won't believe exists.

Spiny leaf insects, also known as the Macleay's spectre are scientifically known as Extatosoma tiaratum. It is a type of large Australian stick insect, which are endemic to Australia.

As their name implies it says that they can camouflage their colors according to the surrounding like brown, gray, tan, and green.

They belong to the family Phasmatidae of order Phasmatodea, this species is native to Queensland and New South Wales but also has a range till New Guinea. They make a threat pose when threatened and stand on their front and middle leg whereas the abdomen is pointed upwards or they take a little scorpion pose.

They are found in almost all the continents except for Antarctica and Patagonia. The adults produce a clicking sound and release a defensive odor like the scent of a toffee.

They are not capable of stings and bites and are totally reliable on defense and camouflage. They survive well on non-Eucalypt leaves and they do not grow as large in size and are of the same color.

They are not even poisonous and will not harm humans. If it bites you it will feel like a needle pinch but will be cured soon.

For more relatable content, check out these leafcutter ant facts and cricket (insect) facts for kids.

Spiny Leaf Insect Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a spiny leaf insect?

Spiny leaf insects are a type of insect species that resembles a dry leaf.

What class of animal does a spiny leaf insect belong to?

They belong to class Insecta of phylum Arthropoda like the monarch butterflies.

How many spiny leaf insects are there in the world?

There are around 3,000 species of this insect that feeds on vegetation and are known as insect pets.

Where does a spiny leaf insect live?

These species of insect live in vegetation, grasslands, tropical rainforest, and temperate rainforests. They prefer to live among the leaves and branches of trees.

What is a spiny leaf insect's habitat?

These giant prickly stick insect usually lives in vegetation and wild forests. They look like a dry leaf more than an insect as they adapt themselves so well to their surroundings and hang motionless from foliage.

They are sometimes found hidden under leaves on the forest floor or in crevices'. They are native to the northeast of Australia and intake wild plants of the forest.

The baby leaf insect looks like ants which helps them avoid predation by birds. Their color also changes and turns brown-green when they start feeding on leaves.

Who do spiny leaf insects live with?

Species of stick insect can live in groups or packs and are capable of keeping together but the stick insect can not be kept with leaf insect as it is dangerous for the leaf insect. They will end up eating the leaf insect's body if there is a scarcity of food.

How long does a spiny leaf insect live?

The lifespan of these insects is around 12-18 months.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction process can only be done by females, which is entirely without males, and is called parthenogenesis. Eggs from non-mated mothers usually hatch and turn into nymphs which are almost similar to their mothers.

In case when a male mates with a female then there is a 50% chance of a baby male.

A female can produce around 100 offspring without mating ever.

Here, the life cycle begins as a live insect with the oviposition method when the female deposits her eggs. During this process, the adult female will either flick her egg or the whole abdomen towards the ground by this movement and then will gently lay her eggs in the axils of the host plant.

These insect eggs look like a seed in appearance and have a lid-like structure known as operculum at the anterior pole, the nymph emerges during hatching from this pole.

The ants take the eggs into their nest because the shape of the eggs attracts them and usually contributes to ensuring seed dispersal by ants, a form of ant-plant mutualism called myrmecochory.

They take it underground and can remove the capitulum to feed their larvae without harming the phasmid embryo.

What is their conservation status?

They are not extinct and are listed under Least Concern by IUCN. Sometimes when they feel the danger of the predators, they open their wings and stand in a rescuing position. In many countries including the United States, it is strictly regulated to import spiny leaf insect Extatosoma as they may become pests.

Spiny Leaf Insect Fun Facts

What do spiny leaf insects look like?

Spiny leaf insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) resembles twigs and appear broadened, flat leaves like their surroundings and are considered the best camouflage animal in the world. They are smooth, granulated, and sometimes with an extensive spine.

Females are usually larger in size than males, some species have long wings, some have comparatively small wings and in some the wings are absent. Those species of insects with wings are considered most attractive among all the species of these insects.

The Phasmatidae family's insects are the world's longest insects with bulky weight.

The neotropical Pseudophasmatidae includes a large number of attractive and beautiful species to rival Asian winged representatives of the Diapheromeridae. The female possesses a greenish color and can grow till 7.9 in (20 cm) which is bigger than males, whereas the male species grow only till 4.3 in (11 cm) and are brown or pale greenish in color.

They are good fliers and have spikes around the head. The young ones are quite active and as they get older they start remaining still.

Spiny leaf insects are light brown in coloration and resemble a dry leaf.

How cute are they?

They are not so cute in their looks as well as in their behavior. They release a scent like peanut butter and toffee to identify where the predators are and that's how they save themselves from being preyed on which also shows that they are smart enough to protect themselves from dying.

It feels like an exotic pet if you keep one. This insect also gives a feel of fairy tale animals due to their unique features.

How do they communicate?

Insects have a great sense of touch and they produce some kind of chemical reactions in the air to communicate to their own species. This is only the way they can communicate.

How big is a spiny leaf insect?

The maximum length of these species are around 4-7.9 in (10-20 cm), and they are 10 times bigger than a grasshopper. The praying mantis is two to three times smaller than them while the oriental cockroach is nearly seven times smaller than them.

How fast can a spiny leaf insect move?

These are very slow-moving insects, and they fly slower than cockroaches.

How much does a spiny leaf insect weigh?

Their weight is around 0.9 oz (25 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no particular name for the male and female species, so the male species is known as the male spiny insect and the female species is known as the female spiny insect.

What would you call a baby spiny leaf insect?

Baby spiny leaf insects are called nymphs.

What do they eat?

The species of spiny insects are herbivores. Their mostly intake veggies, plants, and vegetation. Their diet also includes leaves from trees, berries, and vines.

They mostly prefer nighttime to feed on whereas the young insects or the nymphs intakes shrubs, plants, and berries. Adults also feed on guava, oak tree, wattle, raspberry, hawthorns, bramble, and salmonberry. For those kept as pets, leaves should be given to them in the interval of 2-3 days because they even fulfill the water requirements from those leaves.

Are they poisonous?

These species of insects are not poisonous to humans. They feel free to live in vegetation and feed themselves whenever they feel. They feel lazy in the daytime and become active at night and then feed at night.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, they would make good pets as they are very unique in nature and different from other animals like cats and dogs. The house members should keep them in proper vegetation and proper space should be given to them for climbing around and feed them with a proper diet.

They are not so hygienic and do not need daily maintenance which means they can be left alone for few days.

Did you know...

These insects have a mutual relationship with ants, these ants are also attracted by the shape and size of the eggs and keep them in their homes and protect them from predators. The leaf insects open their wings when they are in danger.

They become stick or a leaf according to their host plant. They feel threatened sometimes by the birds as well as reptiles and make posture by curling up their abdomen. They are good for the environment and increases new plant growth

Proper care should be taken for their diet, and they should be provided with leaves every 2-3 days as leaves are the main source for them of food as well as water. They look almost similar to a twig and can not be identified until they move, some insect species change their color to blend with the environment.

They release some kind of odor in their defense, stinging is also caused sometimes as well as burning sensations are also caused to the eyes and mouth of the predator.

Stick insects or spiny leaf insects can die in captivity and the reason could be anything including temperature fluctuations, fungal infection, issues of molting, and contaminated food.

They shed their exoskeletons to grow by the process known as molting which the males do five times and the females six times in their way to reach maturity.

How many eggs does a spiny leaf insect have?

Spiny leaf insects will lay around one to seven eggs per day and around 40-50 eggs in total. It totally depends on its species that how many eggs it can lay.

Some of them drop their eggs on the ground while some place them in the nest from where the ants take them to their nests. Once the female is fertilized it does not need to mate again. The females produce the eggs on themselves they don't need males for that.

Do spiny leaf insects bite?

These insects can not bite, sting, or harm humans as they are not poisonous or venomous but in the case of a female, it has spines on their undersides and legs which they may use if you handle them roughly.

Therefore, these insects should be handled with proper care and the best way to do that is you should not hold them with your hands just place your hand on a surface and let them climb your hand and make a grip that would neither harm them nor you.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these morpho butterfly facts and hermit crab facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable spiny leaf insects coloring pages.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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