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Giant Prickly Stick

Giant Prickly Stick
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-04-12
Categories: Savannah
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 HZ DG Macro, Digital ISO 100, UV 62mm Kenko
Exposure: f/10.0, 1/200 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Insects and Spiders of Southern Africa, The pictures more views, Insects' World, Camouflage, A study in Entomology (insects) 1, 80-89 Points I, Unusual critters, Macromania [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-02-06 17:56
Viewed: 27092
Favorites: 3 [view]
Points: 88
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Giant Australian Spiny Leaf Insect - Extatosoma tiaratum

I'll be back again with some more shots from the Kruger Park (of course, so what's new?), but this time it is something from the archives just to take a bit of a breather or interlude (if you wish).

This female spiny leaf insect (also known as the Macleay's Spectre) was one of the fascinating species on display at the "Butterflies for Africa" house (in Pietermaritzburg) which we visited earlier last year. Due to the continuous rain and thick fog, which we encountered, visibility was reduced to less that 100-200m. The result was that our supposedly "scenic holiday" turned sour and any hopes of landscape photography disappeared out of the back door with the clouds and fog.

Taxonomic Classification

: Animalia (animals)
PHYLUM: Arthropoda (insects, arachnids, and crustaceans)
CLASS: Insecta (dragonflies, mantids, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, flies, bugs, beetles, bees, wasps, ants, etc.)
ORDER: Phasmatodea (stick insects, walking sticks, ghost insects, and leaf insects)
FAMILY: Phasmatidae (stick or leaf insects)

The ordinal name is derived from the Greek "phasma" meaning an apparition or phantom, and refers to the resemblance of many species to sticks or leaves.

Some Interesting Facts About The Spiny Leaf Insects
- Spiny leaf insects and stick insects are phasmids. These are insects that generally not only eat leaves, but also resemble leaves or sticks.
- Some phasmids can grow up to 30cm long.
- Males are long and slim with fully developed wings and can fly.
- Females have very large bodies but very short wings and are unable to fly.
- Females are not only larger than the males, but also live longer, surviving for ±18 months whereas males live for only 6-8 months.
- The colouring is highly variable, being observed as brownish, dun (brownish-grey), reddish, or greenish.
- Females have numerous spines and protective expansions on the body and legs, including a tuft of spines on the conical back of the head.
- Females can lay eggs without the help of a male. This biological miracle is called parthenogenesis and means that all the phasmids born will be female.
- Females can lay thousands of eggs in their lifetime, flicking them onto the ground below their perch
- The eggs have a knob, which attracts ants. The ants carry the eggs to their underground nests, eat only the knob and leave the rest of the egg in the nest, protected from other animals that may eat it.
- The young look like small species of ants with tiny curly bits on their tails.
- Eggs can take up to 2 years to hatch.
- There are ±2,000 named species of phasmids found throughout the world.
- When disturbed, a phasmid may sway, imitating a dead leaf or stick swaying in the breeze.
- Baby spiny leaf insects are called nymphs.
- The Lord Howe Island Phasmid or Land Lobster may be the rarest insect in the world (according to the Australian Museum). They were re-discovered on the island in 2001 after presumably being extinct (due to rats) for 80 years. Source

Australia: NE & SE coastal regions in Queensland, and in New South Wales. Extralimital distribution in New Guinea.

They often hang inverted amongst foliage, with their camouflaged and colourful abdomen curled over the back. Typical vegetation, e.g. tropical rainforest, temperate rainforest, grasslands, alpine, etc.

Captive population is large and successful. It is not known if this species is endangered in the wild, as there is insufficient sighting history.

Rearing Notes
This species is a very common laboratory, school and pet species. They are popular pets as far a field as Britain and Europe. The following food plants have been used successfully in captivity: Bramble, Eucalyptus, Hawthorn, Oak, Pyracantha (firethorn), Raspberry, and Rose. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

eqshannon, Luis52, earthtraveler, ramthakur, JPlumb, smitha, rcrick, Janice, wahclella, fiftysomething, xTauruSx, pvs, fartash, Ena, matatur, Miss_Piggy, bobcat08, Alex99, jaycee, horia, uleko, ellis49, Rehanna, Pentaxfriend, marhowie, Dyker, Aaltjie, pilonm, XOTAELE, boreocypriensis, Callie, haraprasan, oscarromulus, betsie has marked this note useful
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To Rehanna: Oor goggas en nog meerloot 1 02-09 21:29
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Critiques [Translate]

I was tempted to say simply "Ouch" then sign off, but in fairness it is a clearly shot image of this mini-beast. Colours seem represented well 2! Now to sum it up I say "Ouch"!

  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2008-02-06 18:24]

Hola Loot.
WOW what a great Macro. Excellent sharpness and very nice colors. I also like the pose of this "Alacran"
Great Note Too.

This is an amazing insect that you did a fine job of shooting Loot. The POV shows it's wonderful leaf shaped legs and body well. Fine color and focus details also. The fill flash was used to it's best advantage and you managed a pleasing blurred BG. Well done along with a super note. TFS

hello loot,
interesting insect , i have never seen it, this is a fine macro shot, i liked the pov and the composition, lovely colours and the details of the insect have been captured with clarity,
well done,
tfs & regards

This is quite an interesting creature, Loot.
I have seen it on TN for the first time.
The image is very well captured.
The subject has assimilated well with the colour of its perch.
Very sharp and crisp image.
TFS and regards.

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  • JPlumb Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
  • [2008-02-06 20:40]

Hi Loot, looking at the thumbnail I was saying to myself, "I didn't know you could find scorpions in trees". Thankfully you can't. I've never seen anything like this. I've seen walking sticks, but nothing similar to this guy. And they're in Australia. I will keep an eye out for them. And in this pose is he trying to look like leaf? Anyway, very cool looking insect, well seen and captured by yourself, in good light. The colour and detail on this guy (and in a natural pose) is very good. Nice work.

Thanks, John

G'day Loot,
Wow what a fabulous shot of this spiny leaf insect, amazing colours and trying hard to blend in with tree trunk, stunning detail, stand out well against the soft coloured background, really nice work all the best Cheers Rick :)

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  • smitha Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 348 W: 73 N: 1165] (4409)
  • [2008-02-06 21:07]

Hi Loot,
When I saw the thumbnail picture I thought it was a scorpion.And I was thinking"Wow! an orange one(because i have never seen an orange scorpion)" and WOW it turned out to be even better. A leaf insect that resembles (atleast for me) a scorpion. This is a beautiful shot, Loot.And I am seeing such an insect for the first time. But then that is one of the good things that has happened to me after joining TN. You get to see lot of new creatures and admire more and more of nature's gifts.:) You have given us a very good picture with excellent POV, sharpness, details and colours.
As usual very informative notes too.
Thanks for the share,

Hi Loot
Toe ek hier oopmaak, het ek gedink hierdie is 'n gawe skerpioen!! Wat 'n interessante insek! Baie mooi duidelike detail van die foto en beskrywing daarvan. Mooi Loot!

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-02-06 23:10]

What a character this fellow is. He looks very sharp, very colourful, and as Ram says, it has taken on the colour of its perch - how interesting he is.
I like how he seems to be holding onto the branch as if his life depends on it.
Good one!

Hello Loot,
Reminds me a lot of a scorpion as it mimics its tail. Very detailed and well lit specimen...

  • Great 
  • mariki Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 838 W: 60 N: 2307] (9477)
  • [2008-02-06 23:29]

Hello Loot,

Very good shot of this leaf insect. Very nice composition. Good sharpness. Great light and colours.

Hi Loot. Like some of the others I immediately though this must be some weird scorpion. How interesting and informative your notes are. The image is really sharp. TFS.

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  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2008-02-07 0:08]

Hi Loot,

A very nice presentation of an insect I never saw before,the colors are superb,the use of fill flash worked well and the note is interesting and informative as usual,I hope you can go back sometimes and take some landscapes with better visibiliy,thanks


Hello Loot

Nice shot and wonderful insect.

Hello Loot
What a wonderful shot of this spiny leaf insect , Very strange you know :O)
Perfect focusing,exposure and BG,Welldone my friend.

Good Luck

  • Great 
  • Tabib Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 160 W: 5 N: 167] (859)
  • [2008-02-07 1:19]

Hello Loot,

Wonderful macro work of Spiny Leaf Insects in her 'scorpion' like posing.


What an extraordinary looking insect Loot, that tail looks as if that of a scorpion, and those reduced wing bases look a little funny!
Great capture my friend, TFS.

Dear Loot
I see I am far behind with my share of comments on this ugly but beautiful insect. Now I ask you, what more can I say, what my predecessors before me did have not said. I agree with them all and can add by saying bravo! bravo! But what I can say, and I know nobody else will be able to add is the following: I had the pleasure in accompanying you and to see this sticky insect in real. It was amazing looking at it so closely, but I must also admit, seeing it now again on the photo this image looks prettier than what I can remember of the actual insect. I also remember it was very hot and humid that day when we visited the Butterfly House. Looking at the quality and the technical details of this photo, I realize I am still a baby in a nappy and sucking a dummy, and still have a long way to go in photographing beauties like this one. This photo was taken while we celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary and our 27th are just around the corner.

Hi Loot,

Pffffffffffff, what a giant. My first reaction was a scorpion. But after take a better look I think it is a grasshopper. Oh no, I guess it stopped and Im going to read your notes. Very interesting. A splendid capture of this insect. Nice colors. Sharp and ful of details. POV, DOF and BG are oké. The contrast is excellent. Great job. Greetings and TFS BOB

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-02-07 6:16]

Now that is one cool critter!
It looks just like a dead old crinkled brown leaf :-)
Vibrent colours and great lighting... great use of flash.
Razor-sharp with mind-blowing detail.
Great BG.
Very well done Loot!

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-02-07 7:51]

Hi Loot.
So impressive scene with great direct POV and excellent composition/framing. The combination of nicely coloured insect and so fine twig and terrific colourful pictorial BG is great. I am impressed with exactness of tiny details of the main subject. Excellent flash work and DOF. My best wishes and compliments.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-02-07 8:04]

Hi Loot,

Fantastic macro of this dangerous looking creature. Reminds me of a scorpion. Razor-sharp details and great colors.


  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-02-07 9:44]

Hi Loot

Nice to see you again here! Hope you'll post more this time :)
This is definitely a very interesting animal! My first reaction was: did they breed this from a mantis and a scorpion??? :))
Again a splendid and rare insect here on TN, presented so well by you!
I really enjoyed the note, especially the interesting facts.
The photo is very nice, presenting this phasmid with very nice details and textures, with beautiful natural colors and from a great side POV.
Lovely work, my friend!

Bravo and TFS

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-02-07 10:00]

Hello Loot,
Great capture of this peculiar Leaf Insect in what looks like a comfortable position! In spite of the flash the light is very warm and beautiful. Interesting sharp details - the hind leg looks just like the leaves of a Schlumbergera! It stands out very nicely against the dark background. A fine composition!
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

Hello Loot,
very nice to see your excellent posting!
Quality shot in perfect sharpness, awesome colouration and details in the shot
the exposure and focus is spot on!
many thanks for sharing also the informative notes
best regards

  • Great 
  • Ena Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 324 W: 61 N: 594] (2454)
  • [2008-02-08 4:16]

Hi Loot,
What a interesting insect!
Perfect camoulage!
Nice composition!

Hi Loot,
this look very good, lovley colours, fine details and sharpness.
You got him in a very nice pose, it looks a bit lazy ;-))
Well done, my friend.
My best to Anna.

Here we have great light and sunny weather
This afternoon I'm going for the blue one togheter with Vicma.

Hello Loot

Wat 'n kostelike gogga. Ek het al baie keer die stok insekte gesien, maar ek kan nie onthou dat ek al ooit so 'n vette gesien het wat net soos 'n skerpioen lyk nie. Ek lees in jou interessante notas dat dit eintlik net die wyfies is wat so vet is, en dan dink ek onwillekeurig dat dit goed so is dat die liewe Skepper ons as mense nie ook so geskape het nie. Dink jou dit aan as al ons vrouens so moes lyk. Sulke kort dikgatte met 'n ding wat lyk soos 'n angel en sulke stekelrige knoetse orals oor ons lywe. Tjierts, dit kon nogals 'n probleem of twee veroorsaak het.

Jy het 'n pragtige foto hier geneem en het hierdie insek voorwaar op die bes moontlike wyse aan ons getoon. Skerp fokus en puik kleure afgeëts teen die donker agtergrond. Uitstekende werk.


Hi Loot,

Amazing shot
Excellent sharpnes, details, colors, POV and DOF
never seen something like this before

TFS Thijs

Hi Loot,
A nice capture of this beautiful leaf insect. From the thumbnail it looked like a scorpion. A very well composed shot with excellent details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

P.S.: I have dedication for you and Anna please do have a look 'Mid air kung fu'


Hello Loot,
The flash has helped to bring out every detail.
Great color, DOF, POV, and well composed with your BG nicely defocused..Yes, definitely a fascinating species you've shown us!
Excellent supporting notes & Very well done,

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  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2008-02-11 0:30]

Hello Loot
A strange looker you gave us this time. I have seen the stick insects many times before and they are quite something special, but this leaf insect is really something else. You got great focus on the insect with good lighting from the fill in flash to show us all the intricate details. One can surely understand why so many critiquers said that it looks like a scorpion.

Hallo Loot
Time is little. Yes I agree with your friend Rehanna, maybe it is best that the ladies do not have a tang like this Spiny leaf insect. Just think of all the men who would be in the dog box and sleep on the couch. Are ladies not habitual with the question "What do you think of my hair?" or "what do you think of my dress?" and what will happen if they ask "Honey what do you think of my tang?" and you answer "A bit spiky and sharp to me dear"
Excellent capture my friend. Did not expect less, after all you are the master of the pixel.
Kind regards

Hello Loot,

WOW!!! What an incredible insect!!! This is the very first time I see such a phasm...!!!

This one is not mimicking scorpion by luck, I'm pretty sure! Mimicking leaves is a great way to be hidden but mimicking a leaf looking like a scorpion is probably the best tactic to not be molested by anyone!!!

As usual, a great POV, perfect focus and exposition and excellent choice of aperture (f/10) in order to have every part of the insect in focus...

Excellent job, Loot and TFS!


Fantástica captura Loot.
Hermosos tonos y texturas que se confunden con la rama del árbol.
Interesante nota.
Saludos, JL.

Hello Loot,

What a wonderful phasmid creature with your excellent photography. I have necver seen this species before! Perfect one! The presentation and technical quality of this image couldn't be better.


Great image and write-up. Looks a bit like a wingless praying mantis. You might consider, depending on the original size and crop. to rotate the image slightly right, up to give a slight diagonal to the body - I reckon this will strengthen your composition and visual impact!

Hi Loot,
Really great shot. Looks like this cool creature came right out of a Sci-Fi freaky phasmid movie. The intricate detail of this insect is incredible and is very enjoyable to observe. TFS :)

Hi Loot,
Beautiful insect,beautiful photo.Congratulation.
Best regards,

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2008-03-18 21:15]

I love the posture of this insect.
Perfect presentation of the legs, with all the details showing sharply against the branch.
Beautiful deep colors and fantastic composition.
A fascinating creature.
TFS. ; )

amazing creature, TFS Ori

Your notes "settled" the issue!!!
A praying mantis or a SCORPION???
Your notes won.
Lovely piece of work, both photography & notes.
Mario from Calgary.

What a fantastic animal! Never saw it before. It look like a scorpio with this tail; or like a puma with its hanging legs. With a closer look it does look like a phasmid indeed. :)
I see you didn't use your macro ring. Is it too big so that you prefer to travel without it? I plan to buy my first one in february. I wonder if I will be willing to always bring it with my camera.
Brilliant shot.

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