The family Phylliidae contains the extant true leaf insects or walking leaves, which include some of the most remarkably camouflaged leaf mimics (mimesis) in the entire animal kingdom. They occur from South Asia through Southeast Asia to Australia. Earlier sources treat Phylliidae as a much larger taxon, containing genera in what are presently considered to be several different families.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Clade: Euarthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Phasmatodea
- Suborder: Verophasmatodea
- Family: Phylliidae
Leaf kits, (family feildidae), also called walking leaf, are more than 50 species of flat, usually green insects, known for their traumatic decay appearance. Leaf insects feed on plants and especially live in crowded vegetation areas. Their natural range extends from the islands in the Indian Ocean in Papua New Guinea and Australia, in parts of Mainland South Asia and South-East Asia in the West Pacific.
Specialists think that a number of Phylliidae species live way up in the tropical rainforest canopy, between 20 and 60 meters high. They live on their host plant and feed on other plant material. During her lifetime, each female will lay about 100 eggs at the top of the tree.
Those eggs, small and looking like seeds, have little fins that allow them to be dispersed by the wind. The shape of the eggs varies from one species to the other, and the eggs are important in terms of species classification. When they hatch, the larvae are often of a red or black color. They’ll gradually change their coloring in the course of successive molts, eventually all turning green. The life cycle is quite long, but adults live no more than a few months.
Leaf insects are camouflaged taking on the appearance of leaves. They do this so accurately that predators often are not able to distinguish them from real leaves. In some species the edge of the leaf insect’s body even has the appearance of bite marks. To further confuse predators, when the leaf insect walks, it rocks back and forth, to mimic a real leaf being blown by the wind.
The scholar Antonio Pigafetta probably was the first to document the creature. Sailing with Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigational expedition, he studied and chronicled the fauna on the island of Cimbonbon as the fleet hauled ashore for repairs. During this time he documented the Phyllium species with the following passage.
Phylliidae for sale