Titan Stick Insect – Acrophylla titan
Description: Also know as the Great Brown Phasma, the Titan is long, brown and resembles a large stick. With a body length of around 22-27cm, the Titan is considered Australia’s longest stick insect. The males and females have two pairs of wings that are mottled brown and white. The Titan is found throughout the Eastern Coast of Australia.
An enormous female Titan
Life Cycle: The males are tiny compared with the females, usually only half their size. In fact by looking at them it’s hard to believe they are the same species of stick insect! Female Titans hold the world record for laying eggs. A single female can lay 2000 eggs over her adult life, averaging around 80 per week! The eggs are very small considering the enormous insect they grow into. They are oval, grey and are around the same size as a match head.
Eggs of the Titan Stick Insect
The eggs are dropped down into the leaf litter by the females where they wait to hatch. The nymphs are usually bright green, although they are sometimes brown.
Favourite foods: Titans are usually found on Bribie Island Pines, but will also eat Eucalyptus (Gum trees), Acacia (Wattle trees) and even Bramble, Raspberry and Rose bushes!
Defence tactics: Titans are masters of camouflage and are very hard to spot in a tree. They usually sit with their front legs pointed directly out in front of their bodies, making them look very long and stick like. If they are disturbed they will often drop to the ground and play dead. Titans will also flash open their wings showing their bright purple underside to startle enemies. When male Titans are disturbed they will fly off to another tree, land amongst the leaves and hold themselves very still. This makes it very hard for predators to find them again. Females are not strong fliers due to their heavy bodies, so will flash their wings instead of trying to fly away.
• The mottled brown and white colour of the Titan’s wings is designed to mimic bird poo! With not many animals willing to eat bird droppings, it keeps you pretty safe from predators!
• Although the Titan is considered Australia’s longest stick insect, a new species has recently been discovered that is even longer! Found in the Atherton Tableland in far North Queensland, Ctenomorpha has a body around 30cm in length. That’s the same length as your school ruler!