The Lord Howe Island stick insect’s hundreds of eggs have been trasnported overseas in a last resort effort to save the species.
The eggs will be sent as part of a captive breeding programe for the Australian native insect, which is currently critically endangered.
Until recently it was assumed the insect was extinct due to disease or a health creash but Rohan Cleave said the insects, bred at Melbourne Zoo will embark on a journey to Bristol, Toronto and San Diego soon.
There are about 900 of the precious lentil sized eggs but now they need to be safely transported to the other zoos where insurance populations will be established. They will travel in a part of the cargo hold where temperatures fluctuate between 18 to 22 degrees.
Before the eggs enter the United States, Canada, and England, they will undergo strict biosecurity measures such as disinfecting prior to leaving Australia. The process involves washing the eggs in a mild bleach solution, rinsing them in sterilised water, and drying them off. According to Melbourne Zoo authorities, it took months to ensure the eggs were disease-free.
Once the insects emerge from their eggs, they will turn bright green. They will also be three times the size of their egg. Over time, they will change colour, eventually turning jet black.
The eggs are from the 12th generation of a breeding pair known as “Adam and Eve” which were rescued from Lord Howe Island in 2003. Since then, more than 12,000 insects have been bred from the duo.