Extatosoma tiaratum (Macleay, 1826)

Common Name:

Macleay's Spectre


Female: Corpore fere quinque unciarum longo cuneiformi viridi, capite tiarâ acuminatâ spinulosâ coronato, thorace antice angusto subdepresso spinuloso postice dilatato convexiori marginibus lateralibus denticulatis, abdomine antice cylindrico medio valde dilatato margine dentato et in processum segmentorum trium linearem desinente segmentis supra binis laminis dentatis in medio armatis, elytris viridibus subovatis minutis alarum rudimentis brevioribus; pedibus viridibus coxis triquetris, anticis angulo interiori tridentato, superiori denticulato processu ad apicem cristato, inferiori dilatato rotundato, quatuor posticis dilatatis ovatis margine denticulatis, femoribus anticis extus dilatatis rotundatis apicem versus subemarginatis, quatuor posticis triquetris angulis dentatis exteriori valde dilatato. (from Macleay 1826.)

Length: Female 5 inches (from Musgrave 1922.)

Coloring: The species is highly variable in colouring, being oberved as brownish, dun, reddish, greenish.

Key 1991

Rentz 1996
The female is heavy-bodied, brachypterous and has numerous spines and integumental expansions on the body and legs, including a tuft of spines on the conical occiput of the hypognathous head. (from Key 1994.)

Body leaf-like and spined, in males slender and elongate, in females dilated and depressed; back of the head conically elevated and spined; males alate, females micropterous; legs triangular in cross-section; carinae of femora and tibiae, especially in females, partially with strong laminate-dilatations and serrate-dentations.

Key 1991

Rentz 1996
The male has large mottled wings, a smaller tuft of head spines, and 3 occelli. Males fly readily when disturbed or when in search of females. (from Rentz 1996.)

Rentz 1996
The 1st instar has an aposematic pattern of black, with orange head and whitish collar; in its colouring, posture and movements it appears to mimic ants of the genus Leptomyrmex. (from Key 1994.)

They are very active in the early instar stages and seem to continually seek to travel upward, seemingly with an effort to attain the highest branches of the trees they occupy. (from Rentz 1996.)

Key 1991
Eggs are dropped to the forest floor. They can be flicked by the abdomen, possibly startle reflex (you often hear them clicking against the glass when you walk pas the cage). Eggs vary greatly in color, even from a single indiviual; they range from amost entirely white, to mottled brown and cream, to a solid dark brown.


The insect often hangs inverted amongst foliage, with its highly procryptic abdomen curled over its back.

Note typical vegetation, e.g. tropical rainforest, temperate rainforest, grasslands, alpine, etc.

Similar Species:

Extatosoma bufonium

Rearing Notes:

This species is a very common laboratory, school and pet species. This Australian species is so easily reared, it is a popular pet as far afield as Britain and Europe.

PSG notes indicate the following foodplants have been used successfully in captivity: Bramble, Eucalyptus, Hawthorn, Oak, Pyracantha, Raspberry, Rose.

For a stick insect with body length 127mm, to keep 2 adult females, you need a cage at least 600mm high, 300mm deep and 300mm wide.


NE coastal, SE coastal QLD, NSW

Extralimital Distribution: New Guinea.


Captive population is large and successful.

It is not known if this species is endangered in the wild, as there is insufficient sighting history.


Phasmid Study Group

This is PSG species 9. Described in PSG Newsletter #2.

Web Links

This phasmid is particularly well represented by web pages, probably because it is so easy to rear in captivity.


Copyright © 2000-2003 Peter Miller
This page was last changed 12-May-2003.
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