A stick insect? More like a branch insect

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The Independent Online

The phobaeticus serratipes is officially a stick insect, but is more of a branch insect. Each of the six limbs could be a respectable stick itself, which is perhaps not surprising as this is the longest insect in the world.

The phobaeticus serratipes is officially a stick insect, but is more of a branch insect. Each of the six limbs could be a respectable stick itself, which is perhaps not surprising as this is the longest insect in the world.

This specimen of the Malaysian giant stick insect, a pale brown female, christened Phoebe by keepers at London Zoo, is 18 inches (45cm) long. She emerged in April from a tiny egg, which had been laid in a batch of 60 in Rotterdam Zoo, sent to London to form a breeding group.

The species gets even bigger. The longest adult specimen recorded, spotted in a Malaysian forest, measured 22 inches from tip to toe, with a body just under a foot long.

Phobaeticus serratipes can take up to six months to reach their full adult length, after a number of moults. After each moult they usually eat the shed skin, as it contains protein. It is among a small number of insects that can regenerate lost limbs.

The insect is herbivorous, eating plant leaves only and in general, females are much larger than males. The male can fly, but the female can only glide.

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