A Tiny Egg for the Longest Insect
Wednesday 7 April 2004
London Zoo has added another record breaking insect to its collection with the hatching of the world's longest insect from a tiny egg only 4mm long!
The Malaysian giant stick insect Phoebaeticus serratipes hatches out of the tiny egg at a staggering 60mm long. It manages to reach this length by moulting its skin as it hatches.
The photocall will include both the Malaysian giant stick insect and the egg it hatched from.
Like all insects, the Malaysian stick insect will continue to moult in stages throughout its life, which allows it to grow to its full size, taking about 6 months to reach adult. The longest adult female specimen recorded measured an incredible 555mm (22 inches) from tip to toe, with a body of 280mm (nearly a foot!). Keepers are hoping this little insect will reach this length, or even beat the record!
The eggs were laid in Rotterdam Zoo in October/ November 2003 and were part of a group of 60 that were sent to London Zoo, 20 of which have hatched so far. The giant stick insects will be part of a new breeding group for exhibition in B.U.G.S, the Zoo's biodiversity centre. They join well over 100 other species of invertebrates kept here, including other record holders and some of the rarest animals on the planet.
The natural habitat of Malaysian giant stick insects are the forests of South East Asia, where they feed on tropical foliage, but in captivity they happily eat a mixture of bramble and evergreen oak leaves. Although not currently endangered, the high rate of deforestation is a concern for the future populations of these insects and of course many other animals in the wild. These giants are great ambassadors for the importance of diversity of invertebrate life, and will "grow to eggstraordinary lengths" to help to illustrate this at London Zoo.
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