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    Pheruphasma shultei L2

    This Peruvian stick insect ranks as one of the most unusual and distinctive species available to hobbyists today, and has become one of the most widely-kept of the South American phasmids.

    The black beauty stick insect (Peruphasma schultei) is known to exist only in a tiny area of 5ha (12 acres) in the Cordillera del Condor region of northern Peru, at altitudes between 1200-1800m (4000-6000ft). It became known to science for the first time just six years ago, being named after an amphibian expert called Rainer Schulte, who originally discovered the species.

    Its highly distinctive and attractive appearance, with its velvety-black body, has helped to ensure its popularity. Its eyes are yellow, but perhaps the most unusual feature of this species is its vestigial (non-functional) wings. At rest, these broad, leaf-like structures are rounded and crossed with a patterning not unlike that of a spider’s web.

    In the case of the hind wings though, there is a trace of red coloration visible at their back edge. If raised, the striking crimson-red flaps that are normally out of sight will suddenly emerge into view. They probably play a role in confusing a would-be predator.

    In addition however, these stick insects also have the ability to squirt an irritating substance from glands located at the back of the head. Handling should therefore be kept to a minimum, and they should never be held near the eyes. As a further precaution, wash your hands after picking them up. tei L4

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