There are over 3000 species of stick insects around the world, with around 20 of those calling Aotearoa home. Stick insects are renowned as masters of camouflage, and their crypticity and resemblance to twigs/leaves is well documented. Most stick insect species live in trees and shrubs, feeding on the leaves. One alpine species has been also found on tussock.
Stick insects remain still during the day, using their appearance and behaviour to appear cryptic. They are active at night, moving around to search for food and mates.
Prickly stick insect exists in green and brown morphs, with a range of black tipped spines along their body. They are fairly large insects, measuring between 8 cm to 10 cm in length. In this species, there are only females! Females reproduce by mechanism know as obligate parthenogenesis, a mode of asexual reproduction. Eggs hatch in Spring and Summer, and nymphs go through several moults to get to adulthood.
Interestingly, this genus of stick insects was accidentally introduced in England in the early 1900’s. A population has now established and is thriving in Cornwall and Devon.
Check these links for more info on Prickly Stick Insects in NZ
iNaturalist.nz: Observations of Acanthoxyla prasina
Wikipedia: Information on Acanthoxyla prasina
Radio New Zealand (Critter of the Week): Prickly Stick Insect
Click on the image to visit the official iNaturalist.nz observation.