By Nelson Groom
A pest controller rescued a gargantuan 35cm stick insect from falling prey to a hungry magpie – by letting it crawl all over his body.
Australian Josh Topham was bushwalking in Sydney’s North Shore suburb of Brooklyn when he spotted the colossal creepy crawly with a magpie bracing to swoop on it.
The biosecurity officer, from Sydney, leapt to the rescue of the tree-dwelling insect, believed to be a titan stick insect, on Sunday by scooping it up and letting it crawl over his body for 10 minutes while he moved it from harm’s way.
Skin-crawling photographs show the huge tree-dwelling insect’s body spanning the length of his forearm before scurrying over his chest – much to Josh’s amusement.
Josh, 26, said: “I saw it and straight away noticed the incredible size. It would have to be the biggest I’ve seen in all my years of bushwalking.
“It was unusually large. Even the spines on its back were about half a centimetre long!
“It must have just fallen out of the tree when I saw it. Luckily the magpie was young so I managed to get to it first.”
Josh said he made sure the magpie was out of view when he set the insect free in bordering bushland.
Titan stick insects, Australia’s second-longest species of its kind, usually grow to a body length of 26cm and take the appearance of branches as camouflage from predators.
Though they might not be the friendliest looking thing to stumble upon during a peaceful bushwalk, Josh has some strong advice to anyone who finds themselves in the same position.
Josh said: “I didn’t feel weird as I’ve grown up around the bush and I’m used to critters. I was impressed by its sheer size though!
“If anyone sees one of them in danger, don’t be afraid to save them! I’m not sure many people would pick it up, but I definitely recommend you do.”