The magnificent Chan’s megastick (Phobaeticus chani), first described in 2008, is potentially the world’s longest insect (3). It belongs to the stick insect family, Phasmatidae (1), and is 2.9 centimetres larger than the related Phobaeticus kirbyi, previously believed to hold the ‘longest insect’ title (4).
Male and female Chan’s megasticks vary significantly in their appearance. The female is considerably larger than the male, with a dark green body covered in whitish spots. It is also wingless, and has large spines on the middle and hind legs. The winged male is predominantly brown (3) and, like the female, has spines on its middle and hind legs, although some are less developed. Size difference between the two sexes is significant, with the male measuring only 13 to 14 centimetres (2).
As their name suggests, stick insects resemble sticks or other bits of plant, giving them excellent camouflage against their background as a form of defence. This mimicry sometimes begins before birth, with the eggs of some species resembling plant seeds (5).
- Male length: c. 14 cm (2)
- Female length: c. 58 cm (2)