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Ghost Insect

Ghost Insect Facts

Size 1-12.7 in (3-32.5 cm)
Speed Unknown
Weight Unknown
Lifespan 1-2 years
Food Leaves, plants berries
Predators Amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals
Habitat Tropical and subtropical regions
Order Ghost insects
Scientific name Phasmatodea
Characteristics Long body, resembling a twig

Main Characteristics

There are more than 3,000 types of ghost insects. They include stick insects and walking leaves, for example. They owe their name to their appearance, because they resemble branches or leaves.

Anatomy and Appearance

The Biggest Ghost Insect

The ghost insect Phobaeticus chani is not only the largest of its kind. With a body length of 12.7 inch (32.5 cm) and a total length of 22.4 inch (57 cm), it is the longest insect in the world. But there are also mini ghost insects such as Zimema cristinae, which does not get longer than 0.45 inch (1.16 cm).

The Smallest Ghost Insect

There are also mini ghost insects such as Zimema cristinae, which does not get longer than 0.45 inch (1.16 cm).

Ghost Insect Ghost Insect - Photo: Stephane Bidouze/Shutterstock


Enemies and Threats

How Do Ghost Insects Defend Themselves?

Ghost insects are capable of a few tricks to keep enemies away. When in danger, the species Eurycantha horrida emits a brown liquid. Other species take advantage of moments of surprise. As soon as they feel threatened they open their colorful wings in no time, let themselves fall to the ground and fold their wings up again. Their enemies are confused and search the ground for the colorful insect, but they only perceive a twig.

During the Night Their Camouflage Fails

Due to their appearance, ghost insects are well protected against diurnal enemies. Yet, the nocturnal bats cannot be bluffed by them. They register with their echo sounder where the “delicious snack” is moving along.

Ghost Insect Ghost Insect - Photo: Brian Lasenby/Shutterstock


Most ghost insects have a kind of knob at the end of their body. This contains the eggs of the insects and ants like to feed on it. They drag it to their anthill and have a good meal there. The eggs are being left over and tossed on the anthill’s rubbish heap. The ghost insects can develop there without having to fear any enemies. After hatching they crawl away and enjoy their freedom. It can actually take up to two years, until ghost insects hatch.


Ghost Insect Ghost Insect - Photo: David W. Leindecker/Shutterstock

Life Expectancy

How Old Do Ghost Insects Get?

Females can get up to 18 months old. Males live only about 6–8 months on average. They can get three years old if they are kept as pets, however.

More Research Going On

Today more than 3,000 ghost insect species are known, but there are still thousands more. They only have not been discovered yet.

Did you know that ghost insects can be kept as pets? Here you will find a detailed pet profile for ghost insects!


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