Moulting - that most crucial moment

As other Exopterygota (Hemipterodea), phasmids moult regularely while they grow up. With each moult they gradually change their external appearance to look more and more like the adults. During that very sensitive moulting process they have to "pull" their whole body, legs and antennae through a rather small opening in their old exoskeleton, which opens up just behind their head. Even Phyllium nymphs, with their broad, leaf-like body, have no other choice than pulling their hole body through that opening. A truly amazing and obviously potentially dangerous moment in their life. And no wonder things go awry sometimes, as they might get stuck with a leg (which results in the loss of that particular leg) or their whole body (which is fatal)
Breeders should be aware that:

  • disturbances (opening the cage, moving the cage, loud noise ect.) during moulting can be fatal
  • nymphs of many species (groups) moult during the night. But some prefere the early morning hours - like for example Phyllium

 

Phyllium giganteum
a female going through her final moult to become adult
(© Hsin-Hsiung Chen, Taiwan)


another Phyllium giganteum female going through her final moult. In this fantastic video, the opening just behind her head, through which she has to pull her whole body, legs and antennae, is perfectly visible (see about 15 secs into the video)
(© Hsin-Hsiung Chen, Taiwan)


Phyllium bioculatum (cf. pulchrifolium)
a male just after the final moult, expanding his wings to full length
(© Hsin-Hsiung Chen, Taiwan)


Phasmotaenia lanyuhensis
a young female's moult to become subadult
(© Hsin-Hsiung Chen, Taiwan)


Nuichua rabaeyae "Nui Chua"
adult males of this Vietnamese species "occupy" a subadult female, so that they can mate with her first after her final moult. During the whole moulting process, the male clings to her old skin. And just when she pulls out the last bit of her abdomen (after resting for a while), he climbs onto her back again