Thorny Phasmids

Heteropteryx dilatata

Fascinating Facts

  • Also known as a Jungle Nymph.
  • These insects can snap the two long sections of a rear leg together to defend themselves with a powerful, barbed pinch!
  • Some phasmids can reproduce asexually! In a process called parthenogenesis, the females lay eggs that are clones of themselves!

Physical Characteristics

A mature female has a bright, light green color and a length of about 7 inches (18 cm). She can’t fly, but uses her small, pinkish colored wings to make a startling hissing sound, or hides them under leaflike wing cases. Her abdomen broadens from a slender mesothorax, then narrows to a point. A slight, toothed flare along each side of her exoskeleton, plus many thornlike spines dotting her body and legs, effectively mimic thorny vegetation. Males are smaller, growing to about 4 inches (10 cm) in length, and can fly. Brown wing cases with a bark-like appearance cover their mottled brown, cylindrical bodies and conceal large, reddish-purple wings. Both males and females have thin antennae, small heads and strong legs.


Thorny phasmids live in tropical rain forests. They eat bramble, oak and other leaves.

Social Behavior

Generally this species is quiet during the day and active during the night. When threatened it will display a defense mechanism that can actually hurt you. When the female feels threatened, she will stand on her four front legs while keeping her hind legs and abdomen up in the air. If you touch it she will fiercely snap her hind legs together, which have very large spines on them.

Status In The Wild

These insects are very common in their habitat.


They can be found in the Insect Zoo.

Animals & Exhibits