Heteropteryx dilatata, also known as the jungle nymph, is the heaviest stick insect in the world. This insect exclusively inhabits the dense forests of Malaysia, and this is why it’s also called the Malaysian jungle nymph. Their size and looks have made them one of the most popular species in the world of insect enthusiasts.
Jungle Nymph Lifespan & Size
No matter if kept as a pet or in their natural habitat, these large insects can live as long as two years. Females are substantially larger than males and most pet owners prefer them. The females can be as large as 16 centimeters, while males can reach a maximum of 10 centimeters. The females can weigh up to 70 grams and look like leaves. On the other hand, males are naturally lighter and have a long and skinny body, resembling twigs.
Jungle Nymph Facts & Characteristics
These insects are camouflaged really well, and they have adjusted perfectly to their natural habitat so that they could hide from predators. They have short antennae, leafy wings, and a lot of thorns across their bodies, including on their head and their legs.
Even though both males and females have wings, only males can fly because they are lighter and smaller. Some of the biggest threats to them in their habitat are birds, wasps, lizards, and spiders. These insects are active mostly during the night and will rarely move during the day.
It’s very important to be careful when handling a jungle nymph, as it can often feel threatened. When this happens, the nymph will do a handstand, lifting its body in the air with back legs being spread on both sides. It positions itself this way to defend itself with its back legs and their sharp spikes. These attacks might cut the skin and cause bleeding, but it’s not dangerous for adults.
However, children should not get near to them when they are threatened. These insects are defensive merely because they have a lot of natural enemies and they have an instinct to battle for their survival. If they are disturbed, avoid touching them or be very careful when you do so.
Naturally, it’s very difficult to obtain the food they eat in their habitat, but you can replace it with raspberries, blackberries, ivy leaves, oak, and rose leaves. However, you shouldn’t just feed them on ivy, as they need diverse food. Malaysian jungle nymphs are very sensitive to chemical pollutants, and this is why it’s important to find foods that aren’t polluted or fertilized with artificial fertilizers. If you can’t be sure that the plants you find are “clean,” then it’s best not to give them to the insect.
Jungle Nymph Care
As they come from tropical jungles in Malaysia, these insects love warm temperature. Being held in cold environments might cause issues with their metabolisms and eventually death. The ideal temperature in which they thrive is from 24 to 28 degrees Celsius. Depending on your location, chances are you will probably have to get a heating system.
Malaysian jungle nymphs require a habitat that is suitable for their size. Most importantly, the height of their habitat needs to be adequate, as all stick insects hang on their back legs to molt and they need to have room to drop out from their old skin. The average height for a jungle nymph’s cage should be around 45 centimeters, while the width and length should be 30 centimeters.
These stick insects love a humid environment as well, and they like to drink water in the form of small droplets that they usually find in their habitat. This is why it’s important to spray the cage with water very often.
Jungle Nymph Breeding
The breeding process is straightforward for jungle nymphs. Simply make sure that you get both males and females and inhabit them in the same tank. They will take care of the rest and mate when they are ready. It’s also important that your tank has a layer of soil because this is where the female plants its eggs.
After the eggs have been planted, make sure to keep them fairly moist and spray them with water often. The only thing that might be annoying is the fact that the eggs take a very long time to hatch and you will need a lot of patience (12–14 months).