Buy Heteropteryx dilatata

Heteropteryx dilatata, the stunning Malaysian jungle nymph for sale

Heteropteryx dilatata, the stunning Malaysian jungle nymph for sale

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Heteropteryx dilatata, also known as “jungle nymph”, is a very large stick insect which inhabits forests of the Malay peninsula and Borneo. 
The first remarkable trait of this magnificent creature is definitely represented by the dimensions of the female individuals (which can reach 17 cm). Likewise, the purple-reddish wings of the males are something admirable and fascinating. 

The giant stick insect Heteropteryx dilatata is now available in our shop, don’t lose this opportunity to rear this fantastic phasmid species!

Heteropteryx dilatata: a brief introduction

Heteropteryx dilatata exhibits a very strong sexual dimorphism: like in many other phasmid species, male individuals are much smaller and slenderer than the females, barely reaching a length of 10 centimetres. Males are also characterized by a dark brown colouration, long antennas and a pair of wings, which cover the entire abdomen and present a reddish colouration on the underside.

Females are instead much longer, exceeding 17 centimetres, they present a colouration which can vary from light green to yellow. Their body is stubby, almost rhombus-shaped, with a large abdomen; they can weight up to 65 grams: their impressive weight makes them the heaviest living insects in the world. The wings of H. dilatata female specimens are short, tegmina’s colouration is uniform with the body of the phasmid while the hindwings are pink.

Heteropteryx dilatata for sale
Adult male and female of the Malaysian jungle nymph, note the remarcable sexual dimorphism

Both male and female individuals are covered with spines that are used both as a deterrent for predators and as a feature that contributes to their camouflage: Heteropteryx dilatata‘s cryptic mimicry may not look as noticeable as in other phasmid species like the ones from the Phyllidae family, but it still makes them appear barely visible in a natural environment.

Behaviour and ecology of the Malaysian jungle nymph

Malaysian jungle nymph

Heteropteryx dilatata displays an interesting defensive mechanism. Their last pair of legs is, in fact, covered with spines and whenever the insect is threatened by a predator, it raises the back of its body and unleashes powerful spiny kicks. Although it is a rare occasion, this phasmid can also hit humans if disturbed too much. Their attack is not harmfull to a human but it can generate small scratches on the skin.

Adult individuals can also produce a squeaking sound by scratching their wings together when threatened: sound production is commonly used as an alarm for predators in many unrelated insect species, from the Sphingidae Acherontia atropos, which produces noises by compressing air in its abdomen, to most of the Cicadoidea family.

In H. dilatata female individuals, the actual ovipositor is covered by a structure that origins from the subgenital plate and the supraanal plate: this organ constitutes a sort of second ovipositor, that is used to pierce the ground and lay eggs in the substrate exactly like some grasshoppers do. In nature, these eggs will remain underground for several months, protected by the forest’s soil: Heteropteryx dilatata’s incubation is one of the longest among all phasmids!

This insect is nocturnal (like many other phasmids), it stays still during the day while it eats and mates during the night, when most predators are usually inactive. Adult males use their long wings to escape threats or to reach females.

How to rear the jungle nymph Heteropteryx dilatata

Heteropteryx dilatata stick insects are quite challenging to breed. Despite being quite resistant, they have specific need and present a very slow development. Malaysian jungle nymphs require a temperature range of 20-25 °C (temperature should still not exceed 30 °C).

H. dilatata requires a medium to high humidity rate (around 70-80%); ventilation is essential in order to avoid mold and bacteria formation. To achieve those parameters, you can use a big cage with two nettle sides and spray water every other day. During hot summer days, spraying can be done every day to guarantee an higher water input.

Heteropteryx dilatata eggs
Eggs of H. dilatata

Adults do only reproduce sexually, meaning that mating of sexes must occour in order to produce viable eggs. When raising an adult couple, a small container filled with dirt or vermiculite is mandatory, since the females need a soil-like substrate in which they can lay eggs. If this equipment is not provided, she will not be able to depose eggs and she will probably die. Eggs can be incubated at 25 °C and at a humidity of around 60-70%, an inorganic substrate like vermiculite is recommended as it doesn’t develop mold.

Jungle nymphs can take more than a year in order to hatch and their growth is very slow: first instar H. dilatata are already quite large (around 3 centimeters), they will need at least another year to fully develop and the adults will live for a maximum of another year for female individuals and around 6 months for males. Heteropteryx dilatata stick insects may also perform thanatosis, so be very careful and gentle while handling them.

General advices on stick insect rearing

We always recommend to raise your phasmids using cages that are proportioned to the number of individuals that you are keeping within. A cage that is at least three times the insect length in height should be used. However, keep in mind that this is just a general rule and with large specimens like Heteropteryx dilatata providing enough space is essential for the individuals to hang upside down and shed their exoskeleton.

Heteropteryx dilatata
Large adult female of Heteropteryx dilatata

Moulting is a very delicate phase in every insect species, during this stage and a few days after its occurrence you must avoid touching or disturbing your animals to avoid the risk of critical damages. A low humidity rate is often the cause of insects getting stuck into the old skin while moulting. Humidity should always be respected, especially when rearing species which inhabit humid forests like H. dilatata.
Overcrowding must always be avoided since it is, together with a bad ventilation, a major cause of illnesses outbreaks.

Unfortunately Heteropteryx dilatata isn’t recommended for beginners: to be able to raise this specimen from egg to egg, we recommend to practice with easier and more resistant species like e Extatosoma tiaratum, Peruphasma shultei, Sipyloidea sipylus or Phaenopharos khaoyaiensis, also available in our shop.

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