Lifestyle and Lifespan
The thorny devil resembles bark or rotten wood. The long slender body ranges from pale green to brown. It is robust and well-armoured with numerous spines on both body and legs. The male has enlarged femurs on the hind legs with one large, curved spine or thorn on the underside of each leg. Females have a larger abdomen ending in an ovipositor, or egg-laying organ. Both sexes are wingless.
This is a large semi-terrestrial (as an adult) wingless rainforest species belonging to a family of insects commonly referred to as “phasmids”. This family name means “ghost” or “apparition” and is comprised of stick and leaf insects. They resemble sticks, twigs, bark, or leaves.
This well armored walking stick is heavy bodied and is adorned with spines on its body and legs.
Forested areas where it is found in foliage and ground litter. They prefer the warmth and high humidity provided by tropical rainforests.
Leaves of the forest including ficus, bramble, raspberry, rose, and guava. All stick insects are vegetarian.
This type of insect provides food for many animals. Many of the phasmids have a specific niche or limited variety of vegetation.
Stick Insects are mainly nocturnal (active at night). During the day, they may hide, motionless, under plants, but, because of their superior camouflage, they can often sit in the open and remain unseen.
They have a very interesting behaviour for a phasmid; they migrate from foraging areas to form groups of individuals when resting during the day. They congregate in clusters to hide under bark and in hollows of logs and trees. This provides protection from predators. Like other types of stick insects they use crypsis (camouflage) and catalepsy (feigning death).
Males actively compete for females. The female uses her ovipositor to lay eggs in soft soil. They resemble plant seeds covered by a hard shell. Incomplete metamorphosis takes place with nymphs hatching in about four months. They are about 30 - 40 mm long and brown in colour. The vulnerable nymphs crawl up food plants to congregate at the top. After about five to six sheddings over four to six months, they attain their full size.
Females can lay anywhere from one egg a day to every other day.
Exhibit and Educate
The male has enlarged hind leg femurs, with a curved spine or thorn on the underneath side, large enough to be used as a fish hook in New Guinea.
Animal Diversity Web: Eurycantha calcarata: http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Eurycantha_calcarata/classification/
Fort Wayne Children's Zoo: http://kidszoo.org/our-animals/thorny-devil-stick-insect/#tab-id-2