Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Spiny Leaf Insect

Extatosoma tiaratum


Found this small (5cm) leaf insect (stick insect) in the rainforest at night eating the leaves of a tree. After a picture he curled up his tail pretending to be a scorpion so that I wouldn't eat him.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID


ScottHarte 11 years ago

Thanks everyone and thank you SanjaySaklani for the awesome info.

Blogie 11 years ago

Congrats, Scott! This is an intriguing insect, and your photo series is just wonderful!

NuwanChathuranga 11 years ago


Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 11 years ago

Great spotting! Please add a reference link or two. Thanks

SanjaySaklani 11 years ago

Spiny Leaf Insect Facts:

Spiny leaf insects and stick insects are phasmids. Phasmids are generally insects that eat leaves and resemble leaves or sticks.
They are also known as Macleay's Spectre Stick Insect.
Males can fly (have wings), females can't.
The female insects can lay eggs without the help of a male. This biological miracle is called parthenogenesis and means that all the phasmids born will be female.
Females live to about 18 months old, males to only 6-8months.
Females can lay thousands of eggs in their lifetime.
The eggs have a knob, which attracts ants. The ants carry the eggs to their underground nests, eat only the knob and leave the rest of the egg in the nest, protected from other animals that may eat it.
The young look like small species of ants with tiny curly bits on their tails.
Eggs can take up to 2 years to hatch.
Longest Australian phasmid is the Titan Stick Insect which can grow to 25cm long
150 species of phasmids are found in Australia
When disturbed, a phasmid may sway, imitating a dead leaf or stick swaying in the breeze.
A baby spiny leaf insect is called a nymph.
The Lord Howe Island Phasmid or Land Lobster may be the rarest insect in the world (according to the Australian Museum). They were re-discovered on the island in 2001 after presumably being extinct (due to rats) for 80 years
The adult female spiny leaf insect which can reach over 30cm and are bright green with yellow stripes.

Wild Things
Wild Things 11 years ago


KatCuff 11 years ago

Very cool!

Jolly Ibañez
Jolly Ibañez 11 years ago

Congratulations Scott. Very nice spotting.

DawnSkalickyAxcell 11 years ago

Wow - awesome spotting!

Maria dB
Maria dB 11 years ago

Congratulations on your SOTD!

ScottHarte 11 years ago

Thanks peter and thank you everyone, that was my first time finding one, hopefully I can find a full grown one next time

LarryGraziano 11 years ago


Aaron_G 11 years ago

This awesome species is also parthenogenetic. The females can lay unfertilized eggs that will all hatch out as females.


Harsha Singh
Harsha Singh 11 years ago


peter 11 years ago

Congrats Scott, this amazing encounter was chosen as spotting of the day!

"Doesn't this Spiny Leaf Insect look more like a cactus than a twig? Check out its fascinating display of camouflage and defence in today's spotting of the day! Also known as the Giant Prickly Stick Insect, this Spiny Leaf Insect was found in the rainforest of Queensland, Australia. It has an amazing defense strategy: it will mimic a scorpion when threatened. If they are disturbed, they will curl up their tail to mimic a scorpion."


rutasandinas 11 years ago

Fantastico muy buen disparo::

Sergio Monteiro
Sergio Monteiro 11 years ago


ScottHarte 11 years ago


Very nice!

MayraSpringmann 11 years ago

Great series!!

ScottHarte 11 years ago

I know! For everything I find I wonder how much I miss.

nexttogone 11 years ago

Amazing find! Our planet is full of life under our noses and we probably miss seeing 90% of it.

KarenL 11 years ago


Spotted by

Cardstone, Queensland, Australia

Spotted on Jul 25, 2012
Submitted on Aug 9, 2012

Related Spottings

Giant Prickly Stick Insect Macleays phasmid (female) Spiny Leaf Insect Spiny Leaf Insect

Nearby Spottings

Brown Tree Snake Bulldog Ant Australian Lace-lid Cairns Birdwing
Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team