Sunday 25 August 2019

No sex please, we're British (stick insects)

Phasmids hailing from New Zealand become asexual after arriving in the UK

Mon 19 Aug 2019 06.52 BST Last modified on Mon 19 Aug 2019 20.50 BST

A New Zealand stick insect that migrated to the UK more than seven decades ago has given up having sex and become asexual, prompting biologists to wonder about the use of sex at all – especially in Britain.

The Clitarchus hookeri is native to New Zealand but migrated to the UK some time between 1910 and 1935, catching a ride on shiploads of New Zealand plants that were transported to the subtropical Tresco Abbey Garden on the Scilly Isles islands off the coast of Cornwall.

Biologists from Massey University in New Zealand’s North Island have discovered that some time in the last 100 years the Scilly isles population of Clitarchus hookeri gave up having sex and start to reproduce asexually. The local population of Scilly Isles stick insects is now entirely female.

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