The Giant Leaf Insect (Phyllium giganteum) is a species of leaf insect belonging to the family Phylliidae and the order Phasmatodea, which comprises around 2000 species found globally except for Antarctica and Patagonia. It is the largest species in the genus Phyllium and one of the largest leaf insects in the world. The insect is often referred to as “Walking leaves” or “True leaf insect” in English, “Phyllie géante” in France, “Das grosse Wandelnde Blatt” in Germany, and “Fillio” or “Insetto foglia” in Italy.
Leaf insects are herbivorous, phytophagous, and harmless to humans, making them easy to breed. They reproduce through parthenogenesis and their lack of wings makes it difficult for them to fly away. This makes them a popular choice among children, entomologists, and amateur breeders.
Leaf insects are a classic example of crypsis, which is the ability to imitate and merge with the surrounding environment. This is different from mimicry, where a species imitates another species. Crypsis helps protect the insect from predators. Other large stick insects include Dryococelus australis, Extatosoma tiaratum, and Heteropteryx dilatata, with body lengths reaching 15, 20, and 25 cm respectively.