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Rats, brought by man, had almost destroyed it: this large insect comes back to life after near extinction

This insect &agrav; the impressive size could well have disappeared a few years ago. If he survived, it is thanks to an exceptional natural phenomenon.

This large insect quite simply almost disappeared from the face of the earth. This unique and fragile population has been destroyed. rediscovered in 2001 although specialists thought it had been extinct since 1986. Today, it is greatly threatened but maintains hope of survival in the volcanic zone from Ball's Pyramid. The San Diego Zoo, for example, invites visitors à discover this little-known species. 'Bringing our guests closer to this rare and iconic species is a great way to raise awareness of the lesser-known animals that run the world,' says entomologist Paige Howorth at the San Diego Zoo.

Unfortunately, Ball's Pyramid, due to extreme natural disasters like landslides, is not an ideal environment for this wild stick insect. It's Lord Howe's Island, because that's the species we're talking about. Also called "tree lobster", there are only 20 left & 30 in the world. And the Australian area in which it lives is unfortunately not full of sufficient food for the species to develop rapidly.

In the past, these stick insects gathered on the branches of Moreton Bay fig trees and woolly tea plants off the east coast of Australia. But the big stick insect the size of a hand turned out to be a big stick insect the size of a hand. Be your favorite meal! rats during the invasion of 1918. "The shipwrecked rats feasted, multiplied and thrived. galés again, until '` what'no "tree lobster" not be found.

Rats, brought by man, had almost destroyed it: this large insect comes back to life after near extinction

© James D. Morgan/Rex F/REX/SIPA

Rats also devoured the food. other native species up to They no longer exist on the island, including five birds, two plants and 12 other invertebrates. continues Paige Howorth. But then, how did Lord Howe's wild stick insect survive? à the capacity of the female &agrav; self "clone" by parthenogenesis. In other words, asexual reproduction in which the reproductive cells of certain animals develop into embryos without being fertilized. In general, they have the same genetic heritage as the mother: the descendants are then clones. This is precisely the technique used by our "tree lobster".

In 2003, a rescue team safely extracted  four black stick insects to launch a vast breeding program. Together, the Melbourne, Bristol (now closed) and San Diego zoos established a captive population, which now numbers in the thousands. . Since 2019, massive efforts have also been made. deployed to eliminate rats on Lord Howe Island using rat detection dogs. "What is unfolding is an &ecological renaissance," Hank Bower, resident of Lord Howe Island, Laura Chung of the Sydney Morning Herald in 2022. "There's a vine we didn't know aboutà what the fruit looked like.

People take photos of insects and send them to the Australian Museum. They say we only have three listed, but we see hundreds. Everything flowers, all the plants flower and we see a carpet of seedlings. Today, zoos hope that their now-growing populations will be used to redirect insects to their island once it is gone. rid of the last rats.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116