Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stick, Leaf, and Buffalo Insects at the San Diego Zoo

Recently, my family and I visited San Diego for my cousins wedding, and we were able to make a stop at the San Diego Zoo!  Amongst the many fascinating critters that we saw there, we got to see several incredible insects, the best of which were expert camouflagers!  First off, we have the dead leaf mantisDeroplatys dessicata.  Similar to both the walking leaves and the ghost mantis mentioned in the last post about the greater angle-winged katydid (click HERE to check that out), the dead leaf mantis is perfectly adapted for lying in wait for its prey amongst the leaf litter of the Asian forests it calls home!  If you can't see it, the mantis is in the center of the two pictures below.
Next, we have Heteropteryx dilatata, or the jungle nymph!  The females of this species are one of the heaviest insects, reaching almost ten inches!  This one is less of a camouflager, and more of just an awesome insect!  My mother is used for scale in the zoomed out picture.
This insect is another katydid, just like Damu!  This is the giant katydid, Macrolyristes corporalis, also native to Malaysia, as well as Indonesia.  Though I am not as impressed by the giant katydids camouflage skills as I am of Damu's, it still is a pretty cool insect!
Next up is the children's stick insect, Tropidoderus childrenii!  This guy eats eucalyptus leaves down under in Australia.
If I remember correctly, the jumping stick of the genus Stiphra was in the same cage as the children's stick insect.  This one is one of those really great camouflagers: not only is it an insect camouflaged as a stick, its a stick insect camouflaging as a walking stick!  Despite this superficial resemblance, the jumping stick is actually in the same family as the grasshoppers!  They are native to Peru.
One last camouflaging insect!  Below is the New Guinea Stick Insect, Eurycantha calcarata, native to Papua New Guinea!  According to the zoo signs, the males make up for the fact that they are smaller than the females by having giant spikes on their legs and emitting a "foul-smelling secretion."  I'm not certain whether I have a male or a female pictured.  My mother is again used for scale in the zoomed out picture.
Got two more insects for you!  The first is actually a picture of just one insect, a jade-headed buffalo beetle, Eudicella smithi.  This beautiful African beetle eats tree sap, pollen, and rotten fruit.
Finally, for those of you who don't like ants, you might not want to look at the next picture!  Leaf cutter ants!  Millions of these suckers can fit in a single colony: now THAT would be an infestation!
All of this info was brought to you by the labels at the San Diego Zoo.

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