One of the most rare, beautiful and bizarre insects in the world is found here in our wet tropics. Known as the Peppermint Stick insect (Megacrania batesii) and it surely lives up to its name.
With its striking iridescent blue green colour. This truly amazing insect found in isolated pockets of coastal pandanus forests from Cape Tribulation to Innisfail on the North East coast of Queensland. Can often be observed at close range in broad daylight but is usually missed by keen nature enthusiasts as they walk straight past it. With cryptic camouflage, they blend in perfectly with their home, which is commonly a scrub breadfruit (pandanus monticola), a low growing pandanus species. Found abundantly along the edges of the walking path to the lookout at Cape Tribulation.
What makes this insect so amazing is its method of defense. No other insect has a method like it. When threatened by a potential predator such as a bird or huntsman spider the insect fires a milky fluid from glands at the back of its head that smells just like peppermint. They can shoot the fluid a distance of a few meters and it can be extremely irritating to the skin or eyes driving away an unwanted attacker. Unfortunately, this defense comes at a cost for the insect and leaves it temporarily defenseless for a while after using its protective weapon. Which takes a lot of energy to use leaving it stressed, exhausted, and vulnerable. So making them use it for a demonstration is ill advised.
For those who wish to see this incredible oddity of a creature there are some on display at the Daintree Entomological (insect) Museum on Turpentine Road just north of Cow Bay on the way to Cape Tribulation. Well worth a visit when seeing the Daintree Rainforest.