Take It or “Leaf” It…

March 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers were in Malaysia taking photos of some birds under a man-made structure. Suddenly our friend asked about an insect, which he had initially thought to be a big grasshopper, on a horizontal metal bar. The moment I looked at it, I was over the moon!!! It has been one of my dream insects to see in the wild! Itchyfingers had found a nymph in Sungei Buloh some time back, and we have always hope to spot an adult one day…So even though it was not us who spotted the adult this time, I was equally excited!!!

A Leaf Insect! Just what was it doing on the cold, man-made metal bar?
Did it forget to camouflage itself? Well, at least it hung on to a part with
some rusty bit on it for better coverage… 

As there were many birds around, I was worried that one of them would decide to take the Leaf Insect for brekky…So I looked around for a stick to try to lure it down. It didn’t cling onto my stick, but instead fluttered its wings in what seemed to be an attempt to fly, before falling down onto the bench and stayed motionless, acting dead – a trick often used by stick and leaf insects to escape from predators…

Couldn’t help but picked it up with my itchyfingers….Look at the size of 
the gorgeous insect! That’s at least 9cm from head to tail. The stretched-out
forelimbs made it look even bigger….

I think this species should be the Gray’s Leaf Insect, Phyllium bioculatumI have seen a specimen of this at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. According to Wiki, this is a male, with longer antennae. The two dots are characteristics of this species, where it got its scientific name bioculatum, meaning “two-eyed”. No wonder it could fly…

Tisu Boy was “forced” to hold it for a photo…Though he likes and finds it
fascinating, insects are not his favourite creatures….

Tisu Girl loves the Leaf Insect so much that it was tough to let it go..
In Chinese, we call it 爱不释手 :p It was such an interesting looking insect!

Then suddenly, an evil thought came up to my mind…I like the Leaf Insect so much that I was so tempted to take it back home! Afterall, there are people who do bring back insects to keep as pets; or people who collect butterflies or caterpillars in order to take nice close up photos of the metamorphosis process in the comfort of their home. But luckily, I was able to sweep away all the temptations and evil ideas! All wild animals, insects and plants SHOULD remain and BELONG to the wild! We should not be removing anything from the wild and bring them home for our own selfish pleasures, well, unless maybe the animals are injured and in need of help. Imagine if everyone were to take something they fancy from the wild, eventually we will be left with nothing! We have to remember this: Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints!

So after admiring the Leaf Insect for a while, I decided it was time to find
it a nice place to hide….The specimen I saw had the transparent wings
opened up for display. Here, I think they were closed up and aligned with
the abdomen…

From the side, you can see that the abdomen is really extremely flattened…

The underside looks like this leaf colour!

Like its Stick Insect cousin, the Leaf Insect is slow-moving and often
sways with the motion of the wind. It moved to the patch of leaf with some 
dried area to blend in…Seriously, when I was admiring it while it was motionless 
on the leaf, passerby were totally ignorant of the presence of such a big insect!
That really shows that they are experts in camouflaging and that is why it 

is often so difficult to spot a stick or leaf insect! 

It was our last day of stay in Malaysia and it was with much reluctance, I had to really “leaf” the insect alone for our long drive back home. I am glad I left it to where it belongs, so that the next lucky person who stumbles upon it can find the same joy and excitement that I had experienced….

Also see related posts:
The Walking Stick
“Leaf” Me Alone
The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Attaining Immortality – Body Preservation


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