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Leaf-Insect

LEAF-INSECT, the name given to orthopterous insects of the family Phasmidae, referred to the single genus Phyllium and characterized by the presence of lateral laminae upon the legs and abdomen, which, in association with an abundance of green colouring-matter, impart a broad and leaf -like appearance to the whole insect. In the female this deceptive resemblance is enhanced by the large size and foliaceous form of the front wings which, when at rest edge to edge on the abdomen, forcibly suggest in their neuration the midrib and costae of an ordinary leaf. In this sex the posterior wings are reduced and functionless so far as flight is concerned; in the male they are ample, membranous and functional, while the anterior wings are small and not leaf-like. The freshly hatched young are reddish in colour; but turn green after feeding for a short time upon leaves. Before death a specimen has been observed to pass through the various hues of a decaying leaf, and the spectrum of the green colouring matter does not differ from that of the chlorophyll of living leaves. Since leaf-insects are purely vegetable feeders and not predaceous like mantids, it is probable that their resemblance to leaves is solely for purposes of concealment from enemies. Their egg capsules are similarly protected by their likeness to various seeds. Leaf-insects range from India to the Seychelles on the one side, and to the Fiji Islands on the other. (R. I. P.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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