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Leaf Insect information sheet.

Leaf Insect Care

There are at least fifty species of leaf insect existing on the planet. They are all flat and represent leaves. Leaf Insects are all Phasmids( an insect that mimics plants, leaves, or twigs). However, they each have slight differences that define them as a separate species. The well known Leaf Insect species are Phylium Philippinicum, PhyliumTobeloense, and Phylium Jacobsoni. The more rare variety of leaf insect is the Giant Malaysian Leaf Insect.

The most common out of the three is Phylium Phyilippinicum, the others are more easily found online than the Giant Leaf Insects ( Phylium Gigantea).

All species of leaf insects have very similar care. Even the giant has similar care to its smaller cousins. In this page, we will cover the different breeds of leaf insects, Behaviour, Housing, Feeding, and Breeding.

Phylium Phyilippinicum

Location: Tropical forests in the philippines.

Phyllium Phyyilippinicium Female: They have rounder, bigger bodies, and smaller antenna than the males. Though they have wings, they can't fly, as their body shape is too bulky and not as aerodynamic as the males. Females are slightly larger than the males, measuring a great 7cm when they are adults.

Identification: Almost plain bodies, smaller than other species of Leaf insects. Patterns on the wings can vary. The  general consensus is that Phylium Phyilippincum have yellow coxa( The small sphere shapes connecting the legs to the body, see more in the anatomy section). They are also known to have a brown splodge on the underside of their abdomen, but this in not always the case. Ph. P can come in different colours, but Tobeloense are more famously known to come in exotic bright reds and yellows.

Sexing: Have much longer antenna, longer body, wings, and can fly. However, they only take off when they are startled, or feel threatened. I have seen mine fly in a falling motion, rather than flying straight. In general, male Leaf insects are always smaller than the females. The Ph.p males reach a mere 5 cm to 6cm.







Ph ph 2.jpg

Phyllium Tobeloense

Difficulty rating( 1 easy, 10 very hard)

3/10 Easy to care for. The best leaf insect to have for a beginner leaf insect owner. If you have kept stick insects before this will be similar to that, expect you will need a heat mat and to pay attention to humidity within the insects environment. 

Located: They are commonly found in Gaela, in Indonesia. 

Identification: Tobeloense are well known for the ranges of colours they come in. Males always come in green, which can make it hard to determine whether or not they are a Tobeloense. The females can range from a dark green to an autumn yellow, orange, and even a bright red. The yellow and green are easier to come by than the red and orange variety. Tobeloense are also often identified by two dark brown spots at the top of the abdomen, however they don't always have these dots. As they get older, telling the difference between breeds will become easier. A key feature of the Tobeloense is, the females tend to be bigger than the common Phyllium Phyillipinicum. The female is normally 9.5cm to 10cm, whereas the male actually has a similar size to Ph.p, they are normally around 6 cm to 7cm.

Ph. T.jpg

Difficulty rating: 4 out of 10. Needs are very similar to the Ph. P. 



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Giant leaf insect bonding.jpg

Phyllium Gigantea:

Located: A tropical forest in Malaysia

Giant Leaf Insect Nymph : The giants have no males in their species as they all died out long ago, and so they produce their young by pathogenesis. This is when an insect produces eggs without fertilization occurring. Pathogenetic eggs are known to have a lower hatch rate, and that is why they are so rare.

Stage L2.

              Stage L4.


Fully Mature Female 

Difficulty rating- 8/10. This species is far more particular with it's humidity than most leaf insect species. They need to be kept cool, yet warm.

Humidity: 70%- 80%

Temperature: 25°C- 30°C

Leaf insects all have the same temperature needs but the giant species are more sensitive to humidity. 

General care

A suitable enclosure would be a glass terrarium. Dimensions of 30X60X30 are sufficient for a group of 10 to 15 smaller breeds of leaf insect. For a group of giant Leaf Insects you will need something slightly bigger. Remember, taller is better than wider. Leaf insects are arboreal so spend most of the time up high. You can place ornaments inside the terrarium, but be careful you do not overcrowd it as they need room to shed. Vines, or branches will give them support when shedding, but they could get squashed if there are too many ornaments. For substrate, I suggest paper towel as you can see the eggs when they fall. However, nymphs are a lot more sensitive to lower ranges of  humidity, so to boost it use Sphagnum Moss and Coco Soil. 

 Feeding: Leaf Insects are known to eat bramble, blackberry, and rose leaves. When it comes to picking leaves, go for darker ones, as some lighter leaves, bramble, in particular, contain harmful chemicals that will kill them. For nymphs, trim the edges to encourage them to feed. Remember to wash food plants given to Leaf Insects to ensure no insects are still on them. I had a terrible experience once with a leaf miner. It got in the leaves and then went into one of my giants and nibbled into her. She was ok for a while but sadly passed away. Also, the food plant must be placed in a jar of water or paint pot and covered over to prevent them from drowning. Spray rose or bramble leaves and the leaf Insects will drink from them.

Breeding: Leaf insects will breed when they are adults, and normally do so a few months before reaching death. All you need is a female and a male. More males to females have often been suggested, but sometimes the female can become overwhelmed and hassled by males if more than one remains. Once eggs have been deposited, lay them in a container layered with damp sand or kitchen roll. Don't spray too much as this will cause mould to grow. Spray every other day to prevent mould from building up. Eggs covered in the mould will not hatch. Common species of leaf insects take up to six months to hatch, pathogenic eggs will take much longer. Giant Leaf Insects take 8 to 12 months to hatch. 


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Behaviour: Leaf Insects are all docile and easy to handle. However, they are very delicate so you need to be slow and gentle when handling them. There is a high risk that a leg could be pulled or fall off if they are handled too roughly. Young nymphs tend to be harder to lift as they are so small and fast. I suggest lifting newborn nymphs with a thin pencil or your pinky finger. Slightly bigger leaves you can handle with your hands. Approach insects from behind so you don't scare them.

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