Felicity the Phasmid has had a busy time of it this week. I met her in my garden the other day and in an effort to keep this big and very beautiful bug safe from my chooks
I invited her to be a ‘guest speaker’ at several Junior Ranger and school events.
Felicity is a Goliath Stick Insect, her proper scientific name is Eurycnema goliath and, like other stick insects, she is a member of the insect family Phasmatodea.
There are many kinds of stick insects and they are found around the world on every continent except Antarctica.
Goliath Stick Insects like Felicity are one of the largest species of stick insects in Australia.
As they grow they shed their outer skins and develop a bright colouration worthy of any Mardi Gras costume.
Goliath Stick Insects are fairly common around Katherine but their bright green colouring keeps them well camouflaged against the green leaves in the tops of their favourite Acacia and Eucalyptus trees.
Their green top surface and green and yellow striped legs and underside make them almost invisible against the leaves.
They are also nocturnal, moving around and feeding at night when they are less likely to be spotted by predatory birds.
They have bright colours on their wings that they use as a defense display when startled.
They also have bright blue spots and pink stripes on their chest, or thorax, perhaps for the same reason. They are not always so garishly coloured.
As juveniles they are skinny brown stick insects, quite unremarkable, but as they grow they shed their outer skins and develop a bright colouration worthy of any Mardi Gras costume.
Like all female Goliath Stick Insects, Felicity is equipped with a set of wings, but these are far too small to lift her big heavy body up into the air and she is unable to fly.
Male Goliath Stick Insects are much slimmer than the females and, although they are clumsy and look rather silly, they are able to fly from tree to tree searching for female Goliath Stick Insects.
If you want to encourage beautiful bugs like Felicity to make their home in your garden you will need to give them plenty of places to hide and food to eat.
Shrubby native plants like Acacias or smaller Eucalypts are great and their bright flowers and generally smaller size make them good garden plants all round.
Keeping your cats and dogs inside at night will also help to protect this very beautiful bug.