It’s over half a meter long!
A stick insect found in southern China has been declared the longest insect in the world.
At over half a meter (1.6 feet) long, this gangly creature has beat out all other 806,625 known insects, the official Xinhua agency said Thursday.
Zhao Li, with the Insect Museum of West China, found the insect during fieldwork in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
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According to Zhao, back in 1998, locals in Guangxi told him about seeing a half-meter-long "huge insect" as thick as a man's index finger. He set out to search for it, but didn’t have any luck until two years ago.
"I was collecting insects on a 1,200-meter-tall mountain in Guangxi's Liuzhou City on the night of August 16, 2014, when a dark shadow appeared in the distance, which looked like a tree twig," Zhao recalled. "As I went near, I was shocked to find the huge insect's legs were as long as its body."
Stick insects resemble twigs and tree leaves, making them difficult to detect.
The previous record-holder for the longest insect was a Malaysian 56.7-centimeter-long (22.3 inches) stick insect discovered in 2008, and now on display in London's Natural History Museum. The new specimen captured by Zhao measured 62.4 centimeters (24.6 inches).
The insect has been named Phryganistria chinensis Zhao in his honor, and a paper about it will soon be published.
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Editor's note (May 11): Formatting of the subspecies has bee corrected to meet taxonomic naming conventions.