To this day, new species of flora and fauna are being discovered in Madagascar. When a country is just such a rich and bountiful smorgasbord of creatures and vegetation to discover it shouldn’t be that surprising that we haven’t found everything yet, but it is still exciting! The latest discovery is a rare giant stick insect that turns bright blue before mating, exposing itself to dangerous predators but seemingly willing to risk it all to attract a mate and procreate. The size of the stick insect is also of note, Madagascar is home to some of the world’s largest insects and this newly discovered bug is no exception. The long and skinny insect can reach up to 24 centimetres! It’s another exciting discovery from one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
Manga means blue in Malagasy, so it’s fitting that the newly discovered species is named A. Manga by scientists, it’s this bright blue colour that makes it so rare. Most stick insects resemble, well, sticks. Or twigs, so they are practically all brown or grey in colour. It’s an excellent camouflage tool that protects them from predators. Blending in is so essential to their survival that stick insects can stay still for hours or even mimic a gentle swaying motion of a branch. Which makes it even more surprising that this species is willing to make itself so conspicuous. The male only changes its colour before mating so scientists speculate they are doing so to stand out from the rest of the boring brown stick insects and perhaps the bright colour acts as a warning to predators that they are toxic.
The discovery is not only exciting for entomologists but is especially promising for promoting Madagascar as a biodiversity hotspot, with some of the rarest and strangest creatures in the world.