Big Mama’s Xmas moult

Jungle nymph, Big Mama, has undergone her final moult and is now on display in the Discovery Centre in all her splendour.

web_dzg_jungle_nymph2The species is the heaviest of all stick insects and unlike males, who are brown in colour, the females are much larger and bright lime green.

Presenter Langan Turner said: “Big Mama looks very impressive following the recent moult of her old exoskeleton a few weeks ago.

“We believe this to be her final shed as she’s now fully formed her short pink hindwings and her large green leaf shaped forewings on her back, which are both unsuitable for flight unlike the males, who are lighter and able to fly.”

Jungle nymphs undergo a number of moults until they reach maturity, with females reaching up to 15cm in length, and males around 10cm.

web_dzg_jungle_nymph2Langan, pictured left with Big Mama, added: “It takes a few hours for the old exoskeleton to moult off and the process is usually done at night when they are less vulnerable to predators and while they are usually hanging upside down.

“They are also quite soft when they first appear and have to dry out and harden up over time. It’s an incredible process with a beautiful outcome every time.”

Presenters showcase Big Mama and her shed exoskeleton – pictured above right – in Rainforest educational workshops in the Discovery Centre.