The Greatest Insect Story Ever

A couple of regular readers (ht David and Wendy) recently noted that it’s been a while since I’ve done a “critter post”. (The one on the ivory-billed woodpecker is more of a statistics one.)

Well here’s a doozy for you. Over at NPR, Robert Krulwich recounts the greatest insect story ever.

It has everything: Giant stick insects, 12 cm long, affectionately known as tree lobsters. Driven to extinction when humans bring rats to their home in the South Pacific. But then a handful are rediscovered on a ridiculously precarious island nearby. Living under a single bush.

Well-meaning scientists collect four of the remaining 24 critters for captive breeding. Two perish. Which brings everything down to Adam and Eve at the Melbourne Zoo.

But Eve gets desperately sick. Krulwick then quotes Jane Goodall (yes, that Jane Goodall) on what happened next:

“Eve became very, very sick. Patrick [a scientist] … worked every night for a month desperately trying to cure her. … Eventually, based on gut instinct, Patrick concocted a mixture that included calcium and nectar and fed it to his patient, drop by drop, as she lay curled up in his hand.”

Thanks to that TLC, Eve recovers, and the world’s zoos start filling with new giant sticks. And what happens to Adam and Eve? Well, again according to Goodall: “they sleep at night, …, the male with three of his legs protectively over the female beside him.”

So there you have it. Giant, pair-bonding, spooning insects back from extinction. Well worth a read.

2 thoughts on “The Greatest Insect Story Ever”

  1. How amazing would it feel to be Patrick (forever with a capital P for sure), the guy who saved an entire species from extinction?

Comments are closed.