Distribution and ecology

This species, the sole known species of Dryococelus, was previously thought to be confined to Lord Howe Island. Lord Howe Island is part of a large, dormant, shield volcano that formed around seven million years ago. It lies in the Tasman Sea, 600km east of the Australian mainland.

A small population was discovered in the 1960s, 16 kilometres from Lord Howe Island, on Ball's Pyramid - the tallest volcanic stack in the world. At sea level its base measures just 200m across, but it is over 560m high.

The tiny population of stick insects numbered just 24 individuals in 2001, all living on a single shrub. Given that the Lord Howe Island population was considered extinct by the mid 1930s it is amazing that this species has survived.