lucerne switzerland

Woops, someone skipped the ‘Camouflage’ chapter in the stick insect handbook! A colourful new species, Calvisia kneubuehleri, was discovered in South Vietnam by researchers Joachim Bresseel and Jérôme Constant from our Institute. While the nymphs of C. kneubuehleri do a great job at hiding, conforming to the “master of camouflage” reputation of the stick insects, the adult ones show flashy red, yellow and blue colours. It is not yet clear in what way this Picasso-like look is helping them to survive. Maybe the bright colours are warning predators that the insect is toxic, but this requires further investigation.

The species is named after Dr. Bruno Kneubühler (Lucerne, Switzerland), who designed an innovative method for breeding the species. Amongst other things, he managed to extend the incubation period by keeping the eggs at lower temperature for several months. This allowed the eggs to hatch in spring, when food plants were available again. As a citizen scientist, Bruno helped breeding the walking sticks in captivity, allowing a larger set of specimens to work on. He also documented the nymphs, so Joachim and Jérôme were able to describe those as well.

Oh, and by the way, our two taxonomists described the second largest insect in the world (a stick of course) in 2014.

Lion Monument, a sculpture in Lucerne, Switzerland, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewn in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris, France. Mark Twain praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion_Monument

photo credit: nathanwebster https://www.flickr.com/photos/all_the_intrigue_is_gone/