Image By Peter HalszCC BY-SA 2.5

The "Land Lobster" that came back from the dead

The Lorde Howe Island gets it name from the island it is native to. It is a very small island located between Australia and New Zealand in the Tasman Sea. They get their nickname from the fact that they look a lot like lobsters that live on the land. At one point, they were so plentiful they were used by locals as fish bait!

They don't have wings, although they are able to run very quickly. One interesting thing about these bugs is that, unlike many other bugs and even animals, the male and the female share a bond for life once they mate. When a male and female mate they are together for the rest of their lives. The pregnancy for the female, much like humans, lasts 9 months. Once the female is ready to give birth she climbs a tree, and hangs upside down while she lays her eggs. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Land Lobster though is the fact that they can reproduce without the need of a male. This is what also allowed this species to essentially come back from extinction.

Image By  Jan Hecking  /  CC BY 2.0

In 1918 a ship called the SS Makambo carrying passengers and cargo from Australia crashed into Lorde Howe Island. When the ship crashed they accidentally introduced black rats into the area, which had never been there before. After some time, the rats discovered the Lorde Howe Island Stick Bug and began eating them all, as their own rat population grew. By 1920 no one was able to find any of these bugs, and after a few years of searching they were officially declared extinct. However, in 1964 a group of climbers were climbing a sea stack about 14 miles away from the island. When they got to the top of the sea stack they found a dead Stick Bug. This was significant because it meant there was at least some somewhere that had survived, as evidenced by this recently dead stick bug. Over the next few years a few more dead ones were found, but never any living bugs. Finally in 2001 there was a new discovery. Australian scientists David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile came up with the idea that on a small island away from the island there may be enough vegetation to support a population of these bugs. They decided to go and explore the island and when they got there they found nothing but crickets. So they came back at night when the bugs are most active. They found a population of only 24 of these bugs living under a bush that dropped fruits they were able to eat. They had officially come back from the dead! The living bugs were quickly taken back to a zoo to be assisted in their repopulation. As of 2016 the Melbourne zoo had hatched over 13,000 eggs from the Lorde Howe Island Stick Bug, thus bringing back from extinction.



“Dryococelus Australis.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 May 2018,