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spiny leaf insect (female)

Extatosoma popa


There are just two species in the genus Extatosoma. One lives in Australia and this one lives in New Guinea. This species looks like a cactus rather than a stick. It is a female because it is bigger (bulkier) and with more spines than a male. Its legs too are prickly and shaped and colored like the leaves of a desert plant.


Spotted in the central highlands of Papua, Indonesia (Mamit village).


This photo was taken by my daughter B. Frazier. She has given me permission to post it in my collection. :-)

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28 Comments (1–25)

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

Thanks Maria & Jolly!

Jolly Ibañez
Jolly Ibañez 10 years ago

Nice Scott

Maria dB
Maria dB 10 years ago

Great spotting!

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

Thanks C.Sydes & Jason!

Jason Alexander
Jason Alexander 10 years ago

Amazing creature! Papua is beautiful!

C.Sydes 10 years ago

What an interesting looking giant, great spot

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

Thanks very much António and Argy!

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 10 years ago

She? is truly beautiful. Nice job Frazier team.

Awesome S Frazier,give my congrats to you daugther(she follow her father steps:) and thanks for sharing such an amazing,rare and beautiful creature

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

Thanks Nuwan!

NuwanChathuranga 10 years ago


MartinL 10 years ago

Stick insects (order Phasmatodea = Stick insects and leaf insects) contain several families including leaf insects; family = Phylliidae. The correct common name for all Extratosoma is "Spiny Leaf Insect" as you had it and my point was that it does not belong to the family Phylliidae (true leaf insects).
I do suspect Extatosoma popa carlbergi which is very variable but not confidently. I agree that you should leave the ID at species level.

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

Thank you Karen & Sandra!

SandraPereira 10 years ago

Amazing spotting ..

KarenL 10 years ago


Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

Thank Dan & Lauren and Martin! Martin, I saw the common name in use somewhere but I'll change it to stick insect. So do you mean Extatosoma popa carlbergi or Extatosoma popa popa? I saw similar images in my 3rd reference link but this one seemed in between so I left it at species level.

MartinL 10 years ago

You have a great photo of this stick insect. It is a stick insect and not a leaf insect, so its name is a bit misleading. I think it imitates a compound leaf such as blackberries or rose with the leaflets corresponding to the leg flanges. I have a dried one in my collection, as live ones are not legal for me. I think your spotting is the mottled subspecies
The smaller Australia E. tiaratum has two subspecies also. The mossy form is scarce. There is also a green form that is not a subspecies.

LaurenZarate 10 years ago

Very interesting...wish we could all go and look for them!

Dan Doucette
Dan Doucette 10 years ago

Wow! Amazing find Scott!

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

I don't think so. I wondered why myself, but I don't know what vegetation it was found on or prefers. I did read however that there are two subspecies for each of the two species in the genus. One subspecies (of each species) looks (mimics) like a succulent/cactus (like this one) and the other mimics lichens!

LaurenZarate 10 years ago

What a wonderful creature! Even though it was found in the highlands, does it live on cactus?

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

Thanks Gilma!

It is so big and scary!! but it is beautiful.

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

Thanks Ali!

Ali Hemati Pour
Ali Hemati Pour 10 years ago

WoW! So Sweet!

Scott Frazier
Spotted by
Scott Frazier

Papua, Indonesia

Spotted on Feb 6, 2013
Submitted on Apr 22, 2013

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