Melbourne: Heathcliffe, a giant burrowing cockroach, could be the world’s heaviest insect.
The cockroach, 85mm in length and 40mm in width, gives birth to live young ones, unlike other members of its family who lay eggs.
The Australian giant lives in burrows and feeds on leaves.
The Daily Telegraph quoted Nathan Lo, senior biology lecturer in Sydney University as saying: "Native to western NSW and north Queensland, they can reach 30 to 35g and more than 85mm in length."
He added: "They are the world's heaviest cockroach and if not the heaviest of all insects, they are certainly a contender.
"They are different to other insects in a lot of ways and are totally unrelated to the American or German cockroaches found in Australian households.”
Speaking on the age and breeding habits of the Heathcliffe, Lo said: "Giants can live up to eight years, which is pretty amazing for an insect.
"When they give birth it's to live young, not eggs, and they leave the babies in their burrows, come out in the evening to collect leaf litter and bring it back to the burrow for the young ones to eat.
"They look after them for several months.”
Heathcliffe will be displayed at the Sydney University this weekend.
First Published: Friday, August 28, 2009, 20:49