JUNGLE NYMPHS CONTINUED…
Female jungle nymphs lay relatively large ova (eggs), as pictured below. These ova can take between a year and eighteen months to hatch, which is a long time to wait as I’m sure you’ll agree!
The nymphs (babies) are quite large compared to other baby stick insects as the eggs are among the largest stick insect eggs in the world, and they are also very cute and a nice pinkish-brown colour to start off with as you can see below.
Jungle nymphs, like all stick insects and many other invertebrates, must regularly moult off their old exoskeleton in order to grow. Stick insects usually moult whilst hanging upside down, which in the wild would mean hanging from a branch, leaf or other suitable surface. I keep all of my stick insects in nylon mesh enclosures, the tops of which offer an excellent surface to grip to whilst moulting, as demonstrated by this one below:
The picture above clearly shows that even though the jungle nymph has already pulled all of its legs out of its old exoskeleton, the claws of the empty exoskeleton are strong enough to keep a tight grip on the mesh! This is because the jungle nymph has made a completely new exoskeleton or body for itself, so the now-empty claws of the old one are left behind along with all the other body parts but remain as sharp and tough as they ever were!
When they have emerged from their old exoskeleton they hang upright for a while to allow their new body to dry out as this one is doing in the picture below, which moulted whilst hanging from a bramble leaf:
You can see in the picture that some of the legs of the old exoskeleton are still in position hanging from the leaf. After a while there is often no evidence of the old exoskeleton at all, as most stick insects eat it to recover some of the nutrients it contains!
Here is a subadult female moulting to maturity whilst hanging from a bramble stem – the amount of growth at the final moult stage is amazing!
The pictures below demonstrate very well the amazing colour change which can occur when stick insects like jungle nymphs moult as they approach maturity. These two pictures are of the same female, taken shortly before and soon after she moulted to the first green stage of the jungle nymph’s life cycle:
It is clear that the colour change at this stage, and the size increase, is quite amazing! Inside the old exoskeleton of a stick insect a whole new one is forming. It is always larger than the old one, and as these pictures demonstrate it can also often be a much different colour as well. The jungle nymph in the picture above is still not adult and is in fact only at the first of three ‘green’ stages of the jungle nymph life cycle. The next time it moults it will be a ‘subadult’ like the ones below, with larger wing buds and a brighter colour as well as being considerably larger overall:
If you compare this picture to those of the adult females at the top of this page, you will see that the adults have even larger wings. These grow and develop inside the wing buds and, when a jungle nymph moults for the final time to maturity, the wings will break free from the bud casing (a little bit like a parachute opening!) before they unfurl, expand and dry out into their large adult shape. Finally here are three females, one at each of the three green life stages which this species goes through!