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Macynia labiata (Thunberg’s Stick-insect)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Phylum: Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda > Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Polyneoptera > Anartioptera > Orthopterida > Phasmida (stick and leaf insects)

Macynia labiata female

[photos by P. Brock ©]


Macynia labiata male.

[photo by P. Brock ©]

Macynia labiata pair mating.

[photo by P. Brock ©]

Close up of abdomens in copulation showing the male cerci grasped round the female's abdomen.

[photo by P. Brock ©]

The type specimen of Macynia labiata in the Uppsala University Zoology Museum. The specimen was collected by Thunberg and he also named and described the species.

[photo by P. Brock ©]

Synonyms: Bacillus capensis, Bacillus stellenboschus


Male 42-52mm, female 54-56mm. Females are small, plump insects, whereas males are rather stick-like with long cerci; both sexes are wingless and have short antennae. The male is light brownish green, with dark green legs and antennae, and bold pincer-like reddish brown cerci. The head and pronotum are yellowish with green bands. The Female has a yellow head and pronotum, with green bands; the antennae are green, except for two yellow basal segments. The mouthparts and cerci are pinkish-red, along with the end of the mesonotum laterally, otherwise the body colour is usually a beautiful leaf green with longitudinal cream side stripes from thorax to end of abdomen. Occasionally captive reared females are pinkish green or mauve.

Life History and behaviour

Females drop their oval, dark brown eggs to the ground. The eggs have a whitish grey band and a large whitish capitulum. Nymphs emerge in about 4-6 months, moult five times, taking about 6 months to mature; adults live some 4 months. Females mate frequently with different males and start egg laying about three weeks after becoming adult, laying a few hundred eggs. I have no evidence that they can reproduce parthenogenetically. Males use the cerci to tightly grasp females when mating.

Nymphs and adults usually remain on their foodplants during the day, where they are well concealed often pushed right in the vegetation. When disturbed, both sexes emit a clear fluid from their mouthparts – they can also very quickly walk away for stick insects! Females sometimes curl their bodies; they frequently retain an egg at the end of their abdomens, ready to eject.


In the Cape Town area on Leptospermum laevigatum, Erica aemula (and Erica-like spp.), Osyris compressa,  Athanasia trifurcata and Passerina spp. They also accept other plants in captivity, such as Rubus fruticosus and Leptospermum scopariuum and are keen on heather flowers, as well as leaves.


Widespread in the Western and Eastern Cape, South Africa. Also reported from Madagascar, probably in error.

Text by Paul Brock ©