‘Tree Lobster’ Bug Needs Image Help for Survival

In gross science news you may have missed, a massive bug thought to be extinct was found, bred, and will now be re-introduced to its more inhabitable island home after being nearly wiped out by a plague of rats some 95 years ago.

NPR beautifully put together the entire saga of the Australian “tree lobster” bug discovery and return to prominence as the heaviest flightless bug on Earth, and its G*d-damned disgusting.  Dryococelus australis was feasted upon (extra crunchy, followed by extra gooey) by black rats accidentally introduced to Lord Howe island, way off the coast of Australia.  Somehow the gnarly stick bugs made their way to Ball’s Pyramid, a spire of rock 10 miles away that looks as if it could only sustain an evil villain’s lair.

NPR sums it up:

The story is simple: A bunch of black rats almost wiped out a bunch of gigantic bugs on a little island far, far away from most of us. A few dedicated scientists, passionate about biological diversity, risked their lives to keep the bugs going. For the bugs to get their homes and their future back doesn’t depend on scientists anymore. They’ve done their job. Now it’s up to the folks on Lord Howe Island.

The trick next, is to convince Lord Howe-ers that the tree lobster is better than those filthy rats, which have to be eradicated to put the bug back in to wider circulation.  First step, the Melbourne Museum’s video of the hatching of the baby hot-dog sized bugs.  Hit Play below if you can stomach it:

Lord Howe Island Stick Insect hatching from Zoos Victoria on Vimeo.

For more on using public relations to launch, or stamp out a species, read Rebranded ‘Silverfin,’ Illinois to Feed the Hungry with Asian Carp.