It all started on the patio in September 2010 during rainy season, Los Planes de Renderos, El Salvador. My friend was visiting when I noticed something on the floor.
“Gee what is that?” I said to her. “Wow, es un gran animal!” she said (it’s a big ‘animal’). Holey Toledo, he IS big! Look at the size of this guy. That paper is over 6″ wide, so I estimate this walking stick insect is about 5 inches long, not including antennae.
An internet search yielded many photos resembling this walking stick in numerous geographical locations, from smaller versions in the continental U.S. to ones 6-8″ long in Puerto Rico, and sticks in Peru and Madagascar. They belong to a family of insects called Phasmids, known for camouflage capabilities. This is the 3rd major insect I have seen with camouflage capabilities in El Salvador, the other two are a leaf-backed grasshopper called an “Esperanza” in Spanish, and a leaf-backed Praying Mantis. Fascinating stuff.