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The identity of Japanese Megacrania Kaup (Phasmatodea: Phasmatidae).


The identity of Japanese Megacrania Kaup is clarified. Yamasaki"s Megacrnia alpheus adan is a synonym of Megacrania tsudai Shiraki.

Key words

Stick insects, taxonomy, Phasmatidae, Megacrania


Hsiung (1991) stated that several aspects of the biology of a species of Megacrania from Taiwan had been studied by various authors under the name Megacrania alpheus (Westwood) (Willemse 1955; Yeh & Chu 1891; Wan & Chu 1982; Chow & Lin 1986). Following a comparison of Shiraki's Taiwanese specimens with other related Megacrania species in the British Museum (Natural History), it became apparent that the species was misidentified. The late Dr. D.K. McE Kevan examined the related species in the British Museum (Natural History) on the author's behalf. Hsiung (1991) concluded that the Taiwanese species was Megacrania tsudai Shiraki, 1933 and redescribed it. Sixteen years later Hsiung (2007) completed a revision of the genus. There were minor mistakes in those two papers: the hind wings of M. tsudai reaches a little beyond the hind margin of the 2nd abdominal tergum, not the 3rd, and the posterior margin of the anal segment is slightly cleft medially.

Hsiung (2007) mentioned that Yamasaki (1991) discovered that a Megacrania species occurs in Japan and described it as subspecies Megacrania alpheus adan (Otte & Brook 2005). The author examined the photographs of Japanese Megacrania on the internet ( and considered it was similar to Megacrania tsudai. The author wrote Dr. Yamasaki several times expressing his doubts and requesting the Japanese specimens for further study. Unfortunately he never received any response. Subsequently the author found that the photos of the Japanese Megacrania had been relabelled as "a subspecies of M. tsudai" on the internet, but there was no official publication of the change. Suzuki (2010) studied the Japanese stick insects and mentioned that Megacrania occurs in Iriomote Island (one of Okinawa Islands in Japan). He did not specifically indicated what kind of species in his paper. The author eventually received two female specimens and several eggs from Sigetake Suzuki as a gift. They were deposited in the Lyman Entomological Museum & Research Laboratory, McGill University, Quebec, Canada.

The author then compared M. tsudai from Taiwan with the Japanese Megacrania specimens and discovered that they were identical except for minor differences (see Table 1). He also compared the eggs of the Japanese Megacrania with Wang and Chu's (1982) description and illustration of the eggs of Taiwanese Megacrania tsudai and found that they were identical. Further, he compared the Japanese eggs of Megacrania with Yasumatsu's (1942) illustration of the egg of Megacrania tsudai from Taiwan as well as with a closely related species, Megacrania batesii collected from Palau Island. The eggs from Japanese specimens also showed no difference from Yasumatsu's illustration of the egg of M. tsudai from Taiwan, and were only partially similar to his illustration of Megacrania batesii (see Fig. 1B). There is no particular reason to place the Japanese Megacrania species as a subspecies of either M. tsudai or even alpheus. The Japanese Megacrania is therefore, of the same species as Megacrania tsudai from Taiwan, and Yamasaki's (1991) Megacrania alpheus adan becomes a synonym of M. tsudai.

Morphological study

I have compared the Japanese Megacrania specimens with Megacrania tsudai (for the morphological description and measurements please see Hsiung 1991 & 2007) and found that there were no significant differences between those two (Table 1, Figs 1, 2). Though the hind wings in one of the Japanese specimens were slightly longer, they did not extend beyond the hind margin of the 3rd abdominal tergum.

Measurements of Japanese Megacrania species.--(In mm) [female][female]: length of body: 99 to 116; median length of pronotum: 7; median length of mesonotum: 15 to 17; length of tegmen: 14 to 18; length of hind wing: 32 to 40; length of femora: anterior 27, middle 13 to 15, hind 14 to 18; length of tibiae: anterior 19 to 22, middle 10 to 14, hind 16; length of egg: 7.6.

Specimens examined.--2 [female][female], Iriomote Island (one of Okinawa Islands), Japan.


The author is indebted to Dr. R. Manuel for a critical review of the manuscript. Thanks are also due Ms. Stephanie Boucher for photographic and computer assistance. I am also very grateful to Mr. Sigetake Suzuki for his generous gift of the specimens from Japan.


Chow Y.S., Li Y.M. 1986. Actinidinne, a defensive secretion of stick insects Megacrania Alpheus Westwood (Orthoptera: Phasmatidae) I. Ent. Sci., 21: 97-101.

Hsiung C-C. 1991. The identity of Megacrania species of Taiwan (Cheleutoptera: Phasmatidae). Oriental Insects 25: 171-177.

Hsiung C-C. 2007. Revision of the genus Megacrania Kaup (Cheleutoptera: Phasmatidae). Journal of Orthoptera Research 16: 207-221.

Otte D., Brock P.D. 2005. Phasmida Species File. Catalog of the Stick and Leaf Insects of the World. 2nd Edition. The Insect Diversity Association at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadephia 74: 197-198.

Shiraki T. 1933. Megacrania, Phasmidae. Dobutsugaku Zasshi, Zoological Society Japan 45: 108-111.

Suzuki S. 2010. Japanese stick insects. The Phasmid Study Group News Letter (ISSN 0268) 123 & 124: 4.

Wang C.H., Chu Y.I. 1982. The morphological study of the egg shell of Tsuda's giant Stick insect Megacrania alpheus Westwood. Phytopathologist and Entomologist Taiwan 9: 98-109.

Willemse C. 1955. Description of a new species of Megacrania from Obi (Moluccas) with remarks on Megacrania alpheus Westwood (Orthoptera, Phasmidae). Treubia 23: 41-47.

Yamasaki T. 1991. Occurrence of Megacrania alpheus (Cheleutoptera: Phasmatidae) in Iriomote-jima Island, the Ryukyus Proccedings Japanese Society of Systematics 49-56.

Yasumatsu K. 1942. Stick insects' eggs. Bulletin Takaraguka Insectarium, Konty Kan P, Japan 18: 1-20.

Yeh W.Y., Chu Y.I. 1981. The biological study of the Tsuda's giant stick insect Megacrania Alpheus Westwood. (Unpublished, presented to Chinese Entomological Society, Taiwan, Taipei).


Lyman Entomological Museum and Research Laboratory, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Macdonald Campus, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Ste Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada H9X 3V9. Email:

Table 1. The minor differences between Megacrania
tsudai of Taiwan and Japanese Megacrania species.

Character             M. tsudai (Taiwan)     Megacrania species

Body length           103-130 (mm)           99-116 (mm)

Number of granules    about 70               About 60
on mesonotum

Hing wings            Moderate size, about   Moderate size about
                      2.0 x as long as the   2.2 X as long as the
                      tegmina                tegmina
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Title Annotation:SCIENTIFIC NOTE
Author:Hsiung, Chia-chi
Publication:Journal of Orthoptera Research
Article Type:Report
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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