Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (Dryococelus australis): When we were writing the Stick Insect article we remembered something about a rare Stick Insect from Lord Howe Island. This is the intriguing story of this fascinating insect.
Lord Howe Island is a tiny speck in the Pacific Ocean about 500 kilometres east of the North Coast of New South Wales. Politically it is part of New South Wales and has become a favourite tourist destination. One of the most unusual endemic residents was the Lord Howe Island Stick Insects or Phasmid. This insect is the colour and size of a large cigar.
In 1918 a ship was wrecked on the coast and disgorged its unwelcome cargo of Black Rats. By the 1920ís they had chewed their way through the total population of Lord Howe Island Stick Insects. The insect was presumed to be extinct.
Ballís Pyramid is a bleak, volcanic spire about 23 kilometres southeast of Lord Howe Island. In 2001 a small team of scientists made a risky landing on Ballís Pyramid and miraculously found about 20 Stick Insects living on a solitary shrub (Melaleuca howeana).
In 2003 two females and two males were collected so that a captive breeding programme could be initiated. So far 120 eggs have been laid and young Stick Insects have been raised.
It is hoped to reintroduce the Stick Insect back to Lord Howe Island. This will be after the Black Rats have been eradicated from the Island.
Much of this information was gleaned from a news release from the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife. www.fnpw.com.au/enews2/Phasmids.htm