Peppermint stick insect of the Daintree

One of the delighful things about the Daintree Rainforest is that you never know what you will come across on any given day.

This very ‘pretty insect’ starts its life as blueish/green and as it matures it changes to a beautiful green colour. It lives mainly north of the Daintree along some beach areas in Cape Tribulation but has been found around Innisfail and Mission Beach. The peppermint stick insect spends all its time only on a few species of the pandanus leaf, feeding, sheltering, mating and laying its eggs on the leaves where they roll down to the tight-fitting leaf axil to ‘incubate’.

The female’s body is much larger however the male has larger wings so that he can fly to other locations in search of females.

The photo may be of a couple mating however at times the male may only be hitching a ride. They are also very alert with sharp eyesight and will quickly slide down backwards to shelter within the spiky leaves if approached. They are called the peppermint stick insect because of their defense mechanism. If provoked, they will spray an irritating fluid at any predator , including people and this fluid smells like peppermint. This is a strenuous act for the frightened stick insect so please if you come across one, don’t provoke it.

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