A photo circulated on social media shows a giant bug on a boy’s back. Is this image real or fake?
Let’s first take a look at the photo in question.
The photo above was tweeted out several times in February 2014, often with the same caption: “If this bug landed on me my soul would leave my body.”
A variant appeared on social media in mid-2014 with the text “Bruh, if this bug landed on me my soul would leave my body.”
What kind of bug is it?
While some commenters have suggested that the photo features a praying mantis, a more likely candidate is a phasmid, an order of insects commonly referred to as walking sticks, stick-bugs, or stick insects. There are more than 3000 species of phasmids, many of which are kept as pets, despite an appearance which some find menacing.
Stick insects can be found for sale by pet shops or websites, such as Amazing Amazon which offers it for sale for $25 when it is in stock.
The exact species of the phasmid in the picture is uncertain, although the most likely candidate appears to be the Goliath Stick, known as the second largest stick insect in Australia. These insects are found throughout Australia, and often hide in tree tops. According to Oz Animals, the Goliath Stick can grow up to 25 cm, or nearly 10 inches, with the females typically larger than males.
You can see a large specimen in the video below.
The photo of a boy with a giant insect on his back is real and appears to be a Goliath Stick insect, which is a harmless creature found in Australia.
Do you have any additional information on this photo or the insect shown? Drop us a comment below.
Updated August 17, 2015
Originally published August 2014