Heteropteryx dilatata

SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Physical characteristics: The large, broad, spiny, apple green females measure 5.4 to 6.3 inches (140 to 160 millimeters) in length and weigh up to 2.3 ounces (65 grams). The short green forewings of the adult completely cover the hind wings underneath. Males are smaller, ranging in length from 3.1 to 3.5 inches (80 to 90 millimeters) and are mottled brown with slender wings that cover the entire length of the abdomen. The legs of both males and females are very spiny.

Geographic range: The jungle nymph is found in Java, Malaysia, Sarawak, Singapore, Sumatra, and Thailand.

Habitat: The jungle nymph lives on shrubs and trees in tropical forests.

Diet: This species eats the leaves of many kinds of bushes and trees in the wild and in captivity, including eugenia, guava, and bramble.

Behavior and reproduction: When threatened both males and females arch their bodies forward and strike out with their spiny hind legs. They also produce a hissing sound by rubbing their forewings and hind wings together. They will also bite if none of the previous strategies work. Gynandromorphs (GAI-nan-druh-morfs), individuals that show the characteristics of both males and females, are sometimes found in the wild and in captive-bred colonies.

Females bury their eggs in soil. The eggs take eight to eighteen months to hatch.

Jungle nymphs and people: The droppings of jungle nymphs are dried and mixed with herbs in China as a cure for numerous ailments, such as asthma. Chinese families often rear them on guava leaves to keep a steady supply of droppings handy. This is also a popular species for live displays in zoos and butterfly houses around the world.

Conservation status: This species is not endangered or threatened. However, specimens are routinely collected in large numbers, mounted and framed, and sold to tourists. ■

When threatened both the male (pictured here) and female jungle nymphs arch their bodies forward and strike out with their spiny hind legs. They also produce a hissing sound by rubbing their forewings and hind wings together. (Illustration by Emily Damstra. Reproduced by permission.)
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