The officials in Australia are planning to wipe out “invasive rats” on Lord Howe Island to bring back a “native insect” which was once thought to be extinct.
The Lord Howe Island insect looks more like a slim land-lobster than an actual stick, but no matter what it’s called, it’s big and it still exists. The determination was made using specimens from a museum and comparing their DNA to DNA belonging to insects found on the island’s Ball’s Pyramid. The present-day insects are said to look similar to the older specimens.
As the image above shows, this insect can grow to large sizes, at least relative to the average insect you’ll come across. The stick bug can measure up to 6-inches in length, and it has a somewhat tubular look with a tapered, segmented body. Its appearance has resulted in some calling it a ‘land lobster.’ Unlike the adult insects, the young offspring have a bright green color.
If you were out looking for the stick insect, you’d have a hard time spotting it — researchers say it mostly comes out at night to feast on green shrubbery, disappearing back into the trees during the day to slumber and hide.
Scientists first became alerted to the bug’s possible continued existence back in 2001 when a ranger spotted one. Since then, the Melbourne Zoo has started captive breeding programs to help the population flourish. Eliminating an invasive rat presence on the island may allow the population to rebound on its own in the future.