05 Apr 2013

New species of stick insects

Creature Feature, News of Asa Wright, Tropical Nature News

A male Apteroxylus chaguaramalensis. Photos courtesy ASPER (Association pour la Systématique des Phasmes et l’Etude de leur Répartition)


Have you ever seen a “God Horse” on a bush? You may mistake it for a twig. But it is alive – a stick insect belonging to the order Phasmida derived from the Greek word ‘Phasma’ meaning ghost. Over 3,000 species of stick insects have been described to date.

ASPER is a French organisation dedicated to the systematic study of stick insects and their distribution. It was founded in 1997 to produce an inventory of the Phasmids of Guadeloupe with the National Park of Guadeloupe. The ASPER team has since expanded its repertoire and studied the stick insects of islands of the Lesser Antilles like St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago

In 2010, the ASPER team comprising Phillipe Lelong, Yannick Bellanger and Toni Jourdan travelled to Trinidad to study our country’s stick insects. They believed there was a possibility of finding new species on the island. While in Trinidad, the ASPER team had a chance to stay at Simla and was able to visit Mount Chaguaramal at Aripo with naturalist guide, Harold Diaz. This trip proved fruitful as they discovered two new species of stick insects: Clonistria caputaurata and Apteroxylus chaguaramalensis. Both of these are rare species and can be found at Mount Chaguaramal. The new species of Clonistra can also be found at Morne Bleu. Be on the lookout for stick insects in your neighbourhood. You may be more successful in finding them at night as they are mostly nocturnal. If you do stumble upon one that you cannot identify send a photo to asper-association@wanadoo.fr.

J.L. Ryan

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