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Giant Malaysian leaf insects stay still – very still – on their host plants to avoid hungry predators. But as they grow up, they can't get lazy with their camouflage. They change – and even dance – to blend in with the ever-shifting foliage.
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DEEP LOOK is a ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.
You’ll have to look closely to spot a giant Malaysian leaf insect when it’s nibbling on the leaves of a guava or mango tree. These herbivores blend in seamlessly with their surroundings because they look exactly like their favorite food: fruit leaves.
But you can definitely see these fascinating creatures at the California Academy of Sciences, located in the heart of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, through the spring of 2022.
An ongoing interactive exhibit, ‘Color of Life,’ explores the role of color in the natural world. It's filled with a variety of critters, including Gouldian finches, green tree pythons, Riggenbach's reed frogs, and of course, giant leaf insects.
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--- What do giant leaf insects eat?
They’re herbivores, so they stick to eating leaves from their habitats, like guava and mango.
--- What’s one main difference between male and female giant leaf insects?
Males can actually fly as they have wings, which they use for mating.
--- But did you know that females don’t need males for mating?
They are facultatively parthenogenetic, which means they sometimes mate or sometimes reproduce asexually. If they mate with a male, they produce both males and females, but if the eggs remain unfertilized – only females are produced.
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Congratulations to the following fans on our YouTube community tab for correctly identifying the type of reproduction female leaf insects can use in the absence of a suitable male - parthenogenesis.
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