Originally posted here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/12/09/2441280.htm
The world's rarest insect has been returned to its native habitat on Lord Howe Island.
The lord howe island stick insect, which grows to 15 centimetres long and is sometimes know as the 'land lobster', was believed to have been wiped out after a supply ship brought rats to the island in 1918.
But in 2001 a tiny population was discovered clinging to the edge of Ball's Pyramid, a rocky outcrop which rises from the sea about 25 kilometres off the island.
The insects were bred in captivity at Melbourne Zoo and now the zoo's invertebrate specialist Patrick Honan has brought 20 of them home.
"We've got 15 times the population in captivity than exists in the wild, but really they belong on Lord Howe Island, not in a zoo" he said.
"They've managed to hang on very precariously, given the lush tropical conditions on the island where they've come from and given the harsh conditions where they've managed to survive on Ball's Pyramid for the last 80 years and given the difficulty of keeping them going in captivity, it's pretty amazing that they've got this far.
The 10 males and 10 females will be on display at a special facility built within the island's native plant nursery.
The insects will only be allowed to roam free on Lord Howe Island after the rats have been eradicated. An aerial-baiting program to wipe out the rodents is due to start in 2011.