Hot Peppermint Stick Bug Action!

Once again Zooillogix reader-in-the-field extraordinaire Tweet Gainsborough-Waring (yes, that is her real awesome name), delivers the steamy shots you all have been unwittingly waiting for:

Peppermint Stick Insects getting down in Queensland, Australia!
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LonelyPeppermintStick23 - Looking for a male who knows his way around an ovipositor and isn't afraid to get kinky with your Malpighian tubules? Call tonight as I only live for another 3 days.

Tweet was kind enough to share the following info on these stunning critters:

The spikey -leaved pandanus palms bordering the beach provide the perfect habitat for the Peppermint Stick insect (Megacrania batesii) which is only found along the beaches of Cape Tribulation, Innisfail and Mission Beach, a stone's throw from the Daintree rainforest.

Masters of camouflage they are not easy to see as they lie in tender embrace along the rib of the palm leaf. The giveaway is to look for the leaves which have been eaten. The females are not big movers as they feed, shelter, mate and lay eggs in this virtually self-contained habitat.

The females emit a pheromone to attract males when ready to breed, and once laid the eggs roll down into the axil of the leaf where they incubate.

They are slender in shape ranging from different shades of green, to almost blue. At first glance it looked to me almost like a syringe or chemical phial its colour and delineation of shape was so perfect. Although they have six legs they use only their fore and mid legs to move

Both male and female insects have wings, with those of the male larger than the female. The bigger wings are to enable the males to fly longer distances in search of a mate.

The wings also act as a defence mechanism against predators like birds, normally folded neatly along the body they can be quickly opened to provide a flash of colour, enough to stop a predator momentarily in its tracks and allow the insect to escape.

Their common name is derived from the substance they emit if frightened which has a distinct peppermint smell.

More info here

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I found an orgy of walking stick insects (that should be the name of a group of them) inside of a rolled up palm frond in Gainesville, Florida. I think these must be closely related to the peppermint stick bugs. They were making a clicking noise, and the small males appeared to be fighting over the much larger females. They would hit each other rapidly with their front two legs. Some of the insects were already in mating pairs, with the males riding on top of the females.

You can see my photos here:

This species is known to spray a painful liquid, but it very rarely does so, and I've never seen them do it. They are also known as demon riders, or muskmares. If you're ever wandering around a pine forest in Florida and want to see something similar to what I saw, listen to dead pine trees. I've found walking sticks mating under the bark of dead pine trees making a clicking noise. I've only seen this spectacle in August, though they might mate during other times of the year as well.

We visited Cape Trib on our recent honeymoon and got to see one of these. I also licked an ant's bum, but that's another story.

This doesn't help me i'm looking for what they eat